RIP London Rippers (update)
London Community News
By Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter:@mdmaloneyphoto
The London Rippers days in London are over.
Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee announced that as of midnight tonight (July 24), the Rippers will cease operation. It was also announced at that time that the team will operate under the name of the Frontier League Road Warriors and play as a travelling team until the end of the season.
Speculation has been rampant lately as to the likely demise of the team after rumours started circulating about unpaid bills, a situation highlighted last week when the team was locked out of their retail outlet downtown.
Since the news broke earlier this evening, various news outlets and social media sources have been speculating as to the fate of the team and players. It is rumoured at this time that commissioner Lee has indicated that the team will still be able to make trades up until the 12:01 a.m. deadline but after that time, all London Rippers players will become free-agents.
The news was broke to the players by the league commissioner prior to their game Tuesday in Washington Pennsylvania against the Wild Things, according to one published report.
A statement was issued by the team shortly before 11 p.m. that read: "The London Rippers are devastated to announce they have ceased operations for the 2012 season. We want to thank our loyal fans and staff for their dedication to our team and for trying to make professional baseball thrive in the city of London. Further comments will be prepared and released in due time. Please check our website for ticket information and merchandise purchase refunds."
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Controversy has surrounded the team since coming to London, much of it centered its name and logo of the team which bore a resemblance to Jack the Ripper, an infamous late-19th century serial killer from London, England.
Further issues arouse around the displacement of the London Majors as the primary tenant at Labatt Park and more recently in regards to the Rippers inability to obtain a liquor licence. That made it impossible for them to sell beer during home games at the ball park, something Rippers’ owner David Martin contended was needed to get fans out to their games
A losing record and mediocre attendance at home games all but sealed the fate of the team.
No announcement has been made at this time by the club, nor has any information been made available on what, if any, refunds will be offered to current ticket holders for the remaining Rippers home games.
Mayor Joe Fontana, speaking after city council’s meeting Tuesday night, said he was "disappointed" by the news and that he would be looking to find out more as to why the decision to cease operations was made.
“I really wanted them to succeed. I believe London could use a professional team. I don’t know why they have done this. I am sure the answers will come,” Fontana said. “This council enthusiastically supported their coming to the city of London, it is unfortunate they will be departing way too soon. I know there were a lot of issues. Not knowing why they have decided this, I shall have to wait, but I will be finding out why.”
As for Rippers fans, their reactions are mixed judging from posts on the Rippers Facebook page.
“*Tons of love, support, and respect goes out to The London Rippers* You are an amazing group of guys!” was one comment made by Melissa Haywood while Beth Jackson wrote, “Makes me sad to hear that London won’t be your home next year.”
Mike Judd was one of the fans questioning the status of refunds for ticket holders with his post, “Gotta think if People want to Get some Kinda Refund on Unused Tickets they Might wanna Showup @ the Ballpark on Wednesday Night...God Knows it Might Turn into a Three Ring Circus if David Martin is Still Around Tomorrow Night.”
Another person posting on the Rippers wall, Steve Sarjent, summed his feelings up quite simply, “What a mess.”