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RailHawks founder Economides, coach Schweitzer to leave team

Posted October 7, 2008

Carolina RailHawks founder Chris Economides had his remaining ownership stake in the team bought out on Monday, and he will no longer serve as the USL First Division club's president and general manager.

"It was a mutual, good parting of the ways," said Economides of his split with the team's majority owners, F. Selby Wellman and Brian Wellman, and minority partner Paul Singh. "The franchise is in good hands, and I'm looking at some possibilities at a higher level within soccer. For me to be able to achieve what I'm trying to, it couldn't be done simultaneously."

Also Tuesday, the RailHawks announced coach Scott Schweitzer would not return to the franchise. Schweitzer played at N.C. State.

Economides declined to elaborate on what higher level of soccer he's aspiring to, but he did say he would know more about his next move within two to four weeks.

"We wish nothing but continued success for Chris," Brian Wellman said. "I have no doubt wherever he lands, he'll find success again. There would be no RailHawks without Chris Economides. He's the founder, the reason we exist. For three years, he's dedicated his life and time and positioned this team for success in the future."

Economides founded the RailHawks in early 2006 after a successful stint as an owner and general manager of the Rochester Raging Rhinos, a First Division club he helped launch in 1996. In nine seasons in upstate New York, the Rhinos won three league championships and the 1999 U.S. Open Cup.

The RailHawks had a strong debut season on and off the field in 2007. They finished 8-12-8, qualified for the playoffs with a win in the season's final match, and they made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. They also averaged nearly 5,000 fans a game at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

This season started with even higher expectations, but after a 3-0-4 start, the RailHawks went 6-10-7 the rest of the season, which also featured a nine-match winless streak. In July, the team found itself in last place, the first time in Economides' career one of his teams ever sat at the bottom of the table.

While the team finished just short of the USL-1 playoffs, Economides said the team's on-field struggles had nothing do with his exit.

"That's part of the business," Economides said. "I'm competitive as any body, but I wouldn't say that had anything to do with this. It was just time to look at some other possibilities."

The RailHawks saw their average attendance dip to just more than 4,000 per game in 2008, and Economides' decision to leave the franchise has led to speculation that the organization is on the brink of collapse.

Not so, Economides said.

"I wouldn't read anything more into it," he said. "It was a business partner being bought out. That's it. There's no gloom and doom. It's been [the Wellmans?] capital that kept the franchise going. They've done a tremendous job with the franchise, and I see nothing but positive things ahead for the RailHawks."

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  • loganwat Oct 7, 2008

    Is that why ESPN is bidding on the English Premier League games for next year? It is the biggest sport in the world and the Triangle. Anybody who thinks different should open the windows in their trailer because you are not getting enough oxygen. :-X

  • Z Man Oct 7, 2008

    News flash... You're in the United States now and 0.00000001% of the people give a darn about soccer. I can't even name that expensive bloke that moved here and got a multi-million job BECAUSE NO ONE CARES!

  • RochesterRedWolf Oct 7, 2008

    what is a railhawk? Is it some mythical flying creature who watches over the railroads, swooping in to avert danger?

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TOR
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LOS
STL
 
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DET
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10:05pm Friday
NYY
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CLE
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PIT
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ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
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TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
9:00pm Friday
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HOU
 
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ANA
CHI
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5:05pm Sunday
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