In a breaking news story, the Ledger-Enquirer reported yesterday that Columbus’ minor league hockey team is looking for new owners. Current team owners, Wanda and Shelby Amos, son of Aflac founder John Amos, purchased the Cottonmouths with Shelby’s uncle, Sal Diaz-Verson, in 2001. They bought the team from Martha and Charlie Morrow after the latter lost a battle to cancer.
In an interview with the Ledger, Wanda Amos stated that the team has suffered a financial loss into the six-figures every year of ownership. Yet, General Manager Jerome Bechard is optimistic that a new owner can be secured before the end of the season. He is so sure, in fact, that ticket renewals for next season will go on sale Monday. However, no deposit is required until June 1. Bechard’s hope is that sales will prove the team’s worth to the community at large.
The Cottonmouths boast more than 16 years worth of making it to the playoffs, with this year being the first time they have fallen short. Since the Amos’ purchased the team 17 years ago, the team has raised over $1 million for local charities. Every home game benefits a different charity.
“I can’t begin to say how good of stewards they have been for the Columbus Cottonmouths organization,” Bechard said this week. “They have been able to keep us in the community and be involved in all types of activities within the community. You know what? They have allowed us to be here for 17 years and I can’t say how much they have poured into this organization emotionally. It has been awesome.”
Bechard has been with the team from the beginning and, while he understands the reasons for selling the team, is struggling with the decision.
“I have been so fortunate to be involved with ownership groups like Martha and Charlie and Wanda and Shelby,” Bechard said. “My players are not treated like numbers and I have never been treated like numbers. They have treated us like normal players. That is what made Columbus such a special place to play. Wanda and Shelby are just a phone call away if we ever need anything.”
Wanda Amos says that anywhere between 2000-3000 diehard fans attend home games, but they just need more people in attendance.
“Aflac is our bread and butter, it pays the bills,” Amos stated. “The hockey team is what we have done for our community.”
So if you know anyone looking to buy a sports team, send them to Columbus.