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Panthers' Central League affiliate suspends operations

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From the Bees:

The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees are sad to announce that the franchise will not be operating in the Rio Grande Valley for the 2012-13 season. The economics of playing in the Valley are no longer financially viable.

With the loss of Laredo for this coming season and losses of close rivals such as Corpus Christi and Austin in recent years have created a larger financial burden than the team can bear.

"It is with regret that we have come to this point. Closing operations was never our first choice but after the Laredo announcement we took a long hard look and decided that we were left with no other options," said Killer Bees President Trey Medlock. "It was a great nine-year ride and we were ready to continue but it’s just not possible given the current landscape of the Central Hockey League."

The Killer Bees closest geographic rival for the 2012-13 season would have been the Texas Brahmas located near Fort Worth, Texas. The Allen Americans would be the only other in state franchise.

Any season ticket deposits will be fully refunded and if there are any issues please contact the Bees at accounting@killerbeehockey.com.

Lousy news for fans of the minor-pro club, which saw attendance drop to a nine-year low of 3,564 despite a 32-27-2-5 record and a first-round CHL playoff appearance in 2012. The Florida Panthers - and by extension, AHL San Antonio Rampage and ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones - have been associated with the Bees since last summer, contributing only a few players to the RGV roster such as Justin Bernhardt and Jake Hauswirth (since traded from the organization). Yet to be decided, or announced, is in which direction the Cats and Rampage will seek a new Central League partnership, if at all.