At the home of the Atlantic City Surf there was a wave of disappointment Tuesday.
"It’s sad, it’s extremely sad. The community really needed a club like this, affordable entertainment. And now there’s nothing," said club Vice President and General Manager Karin Deveney as she cleaned out her office at Bernie Robbins Stadium.
Deveney and other employees learned Monday the team was no more.
"To come through to say, yes, it’s definitely folded, that came as a surprise to me,” she told NBC 10 News.
The Surf debuted before a sold-out crowd in May 1998, but attendance steadily declined over the years.
The team never turned a profit, officials said.
After a recent attempt to sell the Can-Am League team failed, the current owners decided to pull the plug.
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“Enough became enough and they didn’t want to spend any more money and it ended as is,” said Surf president Chris Carminucci. “Definitely one of the worst days of my life to have to come in here and tell the staff,” he said.
Surf officials said attracting sponsors became difficult last fall after Atlantic City put the land on which the stadium sits up for sale. The team also blamed the city for failing to properly maintain the ballpark, which the resort owns as well.
Kevin Hall, spokesman for Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, denied that claim Tuesday. The city went above and beyond in its efforts to support the Surf, he said.
“Could everybody have done a better job? Absolutely. Could the city have been more help? I’m sure they could have,” Carminucci said.
Loyal fans gathered in the stadium’s parking lot Tuesday morning to say goodbye to team employees.
“It’s a sad time. We’re going to miss it. It’s going to mess my summer up, I know that,” said fan Joe Lonergan, who previously worked as an usher at the stadium.
The stadium’s future remains unclear.
Anyone who already paid for season tickets will get refunds, but getting that money to them may be a slow process, said team officials.
After the disappearance of hockey, arena football and basketball minor league teams in recent years, the Surf’s demise leaves Atlantic City without any professional sports team.
“Atlantic City is unique,” said Lonergan. “We’ve had a lot of things come and go. And this is just another one.”