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Louisiana Swashbucklers receiver Jordan Rideaux pulls in a long touchdown pass against the Richmond Raiders. (Rick Hickman / American Press)<br>

Louisiana Swashbucklers receiver Jordan Rideaux pulls in a long touchdown pass against the Richmond Raiders. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Swashbucklers remembered, not replaced

Last Modified: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 4:08 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

It has been the better part of a year since the Swashbucklers walked the plank.

After nine seasons of bringing indoor football to Lake Charles, the team that won three league championships couldn’t even finish playing its last home games.

Money dried up and investors closed the doors on the franchise that used to call the Civic Center home.

With the Swashbucklers went the last real professional sports team in the Lake Area, though there has been a few tries at a basketball franchise.

Since then, rumors have flown about a return of football and even hockey to Lake Charles.

All those roads lead to the man who used to run both types of teams, Thom Hager.

“Those are just rumors,” Hager said. “I have heard nothing about it.”

Hockey would be especially tough considering the cost. Utilities alone would likely sink any deal, Hager said.

As for football, he said long ago he was out of that business.

As for the guys who last owned the Swashbucklers, it has been a year of disappointment following the way it all ended.

“It still bothers me to think about it,” said Chris Meaux, who was the president of the Swashbucklers at the end. “Not having the right partners involved to have it work here bothers me.”

Meaux admitted that when the indoor season began and there was not a team here in Lake Charles, he was a little more bothered but has moved on.

“I did miss it for a little while,” he said. “When the season began and people were talking about it, not having work to do on the team bothered me, but I got over it after a while.”

Fans have moved on as well.

The Swashbucklers had a loyal but small following that dwindled away as the franchise turned away from some of the entertainment aspects of putting on a show and more into the football aspects of things.

In the end, that helped kill the club.

“We tried to make it all about football and at this level and in this town it was more about family entertainment,” Meaux said. “You will get the football fans to come out every now and then, but what you need to be successful is getting the families out all the time.

“It is the family entertainment you need here to make it work.”

That is something Hager preached when he ran the Swashbucklers.

But now you have to wonder if any team will come back into this market and whether it could work.

Hager thinks it could.

“It has to be the right one but it has worked before,” he said.

“People call me all the time talking about the need for family entertainment in the area. They want family entertainment. I’m not sure that is football or hockey, or what exactly it is.”

In the past Lake Charles has had minor league baseball as well as pro hockey, football and basketball. However, all have left after different levels of success and failure.

Meaux and his group had even hoped to bring baseball back to the city, but plans to buy the needed property fell through.

Maybe the casinos will one day get involved, but for now it seems like an uphill battle to bring professional sports back to the area.

“It won’t be easy with the cost of everything these days,” Hager said.

Money, or lack of, is what forced the Swashbucklers to close up shop.

A year later that seems to be what will likely will keep others from trying a comeback.

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

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