SPOKANE, Wash. — Sitting in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, looking up at the rafters, one can almost hear the cheers. The banners are reminders of not just championship seasons but a name that is woven into Spokane sports history.
For a decade, the Spokane Shock thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans, repaying that loyalty with ArenaCup and ArenaBowl victories. But in 2015, the Shock went away. There were a few seasons under a new name but the team eventually shut down.
Then in October 2019, the team announced its comeback to football.
The team, and new owner Sam Adams, started taking deposits for season tickets, but before the team could take the field the season was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.
A KREM 2 Investigation found that the Spokane Public Facilities District (PFD) has struggled over the last year to get funding from Adams, who purchased the Shock team in 2020.
Adams sent a signed contract to the PFD at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 30 minutes past the deadline, but the PFD said it has still not received the $128,000 security bond needed for the Shock to play at the Spokane Arena this year.
And it's not just the PFD that says it's waiting on Adams and the Shock to pay them.
When the Indoor Football League (IFL) canceled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spokane Shock owner Sam Adams told season ticket holders they had two options; rollover their tickets to the 2021 season or receive a refund.
However, as many as 55 season ticket holders from the 2020 season told KREM 2 they never received a refund, despite requesting one from the Shock.
Season ticket holders frustrated
Jerry Moolick is a retired, disabled veteran who spent 20 years serving in the United States Navy. He has also been a diehard Spokane Shock fan since the team’s first season in 2006.
“My jerseys were cleaned,” Moolick said, talking about his season tickets for the 2020 season. “I’ve got one of the old, old Shock jackets. I mean, I was ready. We were ready to go.”
For Moolick, it brought back memories from when he used to play during his time in the Navy.
“I love the Shock,” Moolick said. “I mean, I love just watching because it reminded me of my days playing.”
Moolick told KREM 2 he bought season tickets for four seats in the 2020 season so he and his son could watch the games, much like they did during the Shock’s first run in Spokane.
“It gave us some good experiences and good times through a bad divorce. It actually gave us something to feel happy for,” he said.
But then, the 2020 season got canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Moolick’s son started losing interest in football as he got older. Season ticket holders like Moolick were offered refunds or the option to roll over their season tickets to the 2021 season.
According to Moolick, he told the Shock he would like a refund in March of 2021.
“The guy told me, ‘Not a problem. We’ll put you in for it,’” Moolick said. “A couple months rolled by and I called back, and he says it’s in process.”
Moolick said months went by and the $1,354 he paid for the tickets never showed up. He provided KREM 2 with emails that appear to be from Adams, saying he’d received Moolick’s receipt. Another email that Moolick showed KREM 2 said, “I have not ignored you. I granted the refund. You are good.”
Again, months went by, and Moolick, who is supporting himself and his son, still hasn’t gotten the money.
“The money would help me at least make ends meet. I’m living paycheck to paycheck,” Moolick said.
Moolick isn’t the only season ticket holder having trouble. Tony McElwain said he’s owed a little more than $900 for two season tickets. McElwain showed KREM 2 text messages he said were from Adams to his wife, including one using profanity.
“He cussed a little bit. I think he didn’t actually realize who he was talking to, and he lost it and came up with some real strong words,” McElwain said. “Once he realized that it was a fan, he kind of apologized, but I mean, they were four-letter words.”
McElwain said that he can’t attend Shock games with his wife as she deals with complications caused by COVID-19. At this point, he said he would even accept the season tickets again so he can sell them or give them to friends and family.
Brett Soboksy is another Shock season ticket holder who is still trying to get $750 back, which now includes legal fees from when Soboksy filed a claim in small claims court to get his money back.
“I just got frustrated with the whole idea, since I’ve been a fan since 2009,” Soboksy said. “Then to get treated like that, he just put me aside all the time.”
Several people told KREM 2 they started asking for their money back as early as March 2020. Three season ticket holders told KREM 2 they did get their refund, but only after they got their credit card company involved.
Of the 55 season ticket holders who spoke with KREM 2 via email, 40 of them provided the amount they are owed, which totals $18,273.
In a phone call with KREM 2, Adams said he’s authorized a number of refunds, claiming the money is being held up by online ticket merchant TicketSpice. In a statement to KREM 2, TicketSpice denied Adams’ claim.
“At TicketSpice, the ticketing revenue goes directly to the event organizer,” the statement read. “The event organizer is in control of how they would like to handle cancelation and refunds.”