UPDATE: Voodoo disappear from Lake Charles

Published 10:35 am Friday, April 19, 2024

Rumors of the Voodoo’s move to Lafayette became official late Thursday night.

Team officials confirmed the news which was then reported by several by media outlets in Lafayette Friday morning, including ESPN Radio.

The Arena League Football franchise that was supposed to open the season next Saturday at the Lake Charles Events Center will instead play at Blackham Coliseum, the old home of Louisiana-Lafayette basketball. Team and league officials hope to move to the Cajundome in the future.

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On Wednesday Lake Charles officials didn’t return calls when the American Press attempted to ask about the rumors.

Thursday night, league officials said they would make a decision between Lake Charles and Lafayette over the weekend. That changed later that day when reports began to leak that the decision had already been made.

Voodoo head coach James Shiver took posted the following on his Facebook page:

“I am sorry this happened a press release from the AFL is coming Monday. All ticket holders will be contacted and everything will be left in good standing. As I type this the turf is being unloaded.

To the fans, I am sorry, to quote the movie Red Dawn the 2 biggest guys eventually had to fight. In my profession I don’t like leaving unfinished business or burning bridges. There has been ongoing issues for months and my bosses decided it was impossible to continue in Lake Charles. The players and I enjoyed Training Camp and we are ready for a great season. My staff and I have worked long hours to put the best product on the field wherever that field may be. The players and coaches are moving from The Horseshoe Casino today to Lafayette.

I hope our supporters put 2 and 2 together from previous issues and realize what’s going on. As always I’m here for the fans. I’m a South Louisiana guy and I put together the best coaching staff and assembled the best players possible to represent you the fans.”

After Friday’s announcements the City and ASM responded.

Gene Thibodeaux, Attorney and Spokesperson for ASM: “ASM is an internationally recognized company with a long track record of success in the management of arenas and event centers around the world. Working with the City of Lake Charles, ASM did everything in its power to make the inaugural season for the Louisiana Voodoo a reality for Lake Charles.  The AFL signed and agreed to lease terms that required the team to provide lease payments, insurance certificates, and other functions in connection with their use of Lake Charles Event Center.  Ultimately, the Arena Football League (AFL) did not pay their rent, nor did they provide a certificate of insurance as outlined in the executed contract, leading to the contract’s termination. The City and ASM would have been irresponsible in protecting the taxpayers’ best interest had they allowed the team to host any games at the Lake Charles Event Center without paying rent or providing a certificate of insurance.”

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter: “In their short time of managing the Lake Charles Event Center, ASM has delivered on their promise of booking high quality entertainment for the Lake Charles Event Center. The recently sold out Parker McCollum concert is a testament to their ability to attract major performances that will bring visitors from all over the country into Lake Charles. With additional nationally touring shows already booked for this year, including Whiskey Myers later this fall,  we remain confident in ASM and their goals for the Lake Charles Event Center. The City agrees with the decision to require Event Center tenants to pay their rent and provide certificates of insurance.”

According to the story from 104.1 radio, former Saints wide receiver Michael Lewis will join the staff. 

According to reports, the switch from Lake Charles to Lafayette is due to slow ticket sales and issues with the Lake Charles Event Center’s new management group, ASM. 

The turf and netting equipment, which has been stored at St. Edmond High in Eunice where Shiver is the Athletic Director, is being moved and installed in Lafayette immediately.

The Voodoo are scheduled to begin play a week from Saturday against the Philadelphia Soul. Reports state the game is still expected to be played.

The Voodoo played in New Orleans up until 2019 when the old AFL went bankrupt. The league began a soft relaunch last year hoping to play this spring.

Lake Charles was awarded a franchise in November.

Back in 2013 the indoor franchise known as the Swashbucklers folded with four games remaining in its season, leaving Lake Charles without a team. 

The reason for the team folding was low attendance despite having made the playoffs in each of its previous eight seasons, including winning three championships.

Existing ticket holders who purchased tickets at the Lake Charles Event Center Box Office can go to the Box Office for a refund. Ticket holders who purchased through Ticketmaster will receive refunds.