BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's desperation time for one local ownership group trying to bring a Southern Professional Hockey League franchise to Biloxi for the 2016-17 season.
A source close to the expansion process told WLOX on condition of anonymity that the SPHL requires $250,000 cash up front in order to be granted a spot in the league. As of right now, talks to obtain sponsorships have improved, but there is still no guarantee that a team from Biloxi will participate in the SPHL next season.
The league usually has a deadline some time in May for teams to submit an application, but this year's cutoff had been pushed to an unknown date in January. However, SPHL President Jim Combs indicated that the door was still open for a new team if it's in the SPHL's best interests.
"There's nothing viable at this point," Combs said. "We'd be happy to be back [in] the market, but as of right now, it's not going to happen."
After the Mississippi Surge folded following the 2013-14 season, South Mississippi Hockey has worked with local businesses and the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to try to raise enough money to earn an acceptable bid into the SPHL. Unfortunately, previous attempts by South Mississippi Hockey have been unsuccessful in revamping the organized sport in Biloxi, and time is running out yet again.
"There's always a miracle," Combs said. "I've witnessed one city saying that they won't have a team, and then the next day they'll have it. I don't have anything halfway [acceptable] right now."
February 15 is now the deadline for South Mississippi Hockey to submit a plan for an SPHL team in Biloxi for the 2016-17 season.