FLORENCE, S.C. – The Carolina Havoc had no knowledge the Florence City-County Civic Center Commission wasn’t going to renew its contract to play at the Florence Center.
In a statement Wednesday, Florence Center general manager Paul Beard confirmed that the commission had voted unanimously not to renew the contract with the Havoc.
Havoc general manager Steven Smith said the team was never informed that the commission was considering not renewing the team’s contract.
“We weren’t made aware of it, so that’s about as far as I’ll go with that,” Smith said. “But the position that we have is that we’re working on the situation, and as soon as we have a resolution to this situation, we will provide further comment.”
Tymere Zimmerman played wide receiver, quarterback and other positions for Havoc this season. He is a former Marlboro County High standout and a Newberry College Hall of Famer.
“My initial reaction is it’s shocking,” Zimmerman said. “Because I felt like it was growing, even though it probably didn’t hit as much right now, but it’s the first year that they’ve gotten it [arena football] back. It’s got to grow. I’ve never seen an athletic program or any kind of program that [immediately] pops – that’s not even life. It’s like expecting high school kids that just starting playing sports to be great. You’ve got to build to that. So I don’t think it was a fair shot at all.
“They have to look at the outside part from attendance,” Zimmerman continued. “Look at the stuff the guys are doing during the week. They’re at elementary schools, middle schools, even high schools. Some of the guys are even holding camps – not camps, but workout sessions with different kids and working with kids community-wide.
“But it’s all about the money. Sometimes you reach people without the money, and I’m pretty sure [we] reached a lot of the kids that we went to [visit] at the schools and interacted with outside of football. That’s the part that’s going to be missed by a long shot.”
In his statement Wednesday, Beard said: “While the Havoc did a great job putting together a playoff-caliber team the citizens in our area showed little interest in attending. The average paid attendance was only 168 per game. This unfortunately is unsustainable given the expenses involved in setting up and removing the field and equipment, utilities and staffing. … We wish everyone with the Havoc to find a city that will embrace their team.”
Beard said the center had provided Saturday dates for games. He said Saturdays are among the most requested dates for events, and there are few available for the next two years.
The Havoc concluded their 2019 campaign with a 52-38 playoff loss to the Carolina Energy at the Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte. The Havoc finished the year undefeated at home, 8-2 overall, and won the American Arena League’s Atlantic Division in their first year in Florence.
The Havoc relocated from Georgia to Florence for the 2019 season. Formerly known as the Atlanta Havoc, the team played at the Buford Arena in Buford, Georgia and won the 2018 league championship.