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Spokane awarded arenafootball2 franchise

It was anything but a shock to Brady Nelson, but he played the part.

While reporting how well the Spokane presentation for an expansion team went to arenafootball2 owners Friday afternoon, commissioner Jerry Kurz interrupted to tell the Spokane businessman his proposal was accepted.

“We’re in! We’re excited,” he exclaimed. “It’s great!”

Nelson and Spokane co-owners Brady Gardner, Adam Nebeker and Eric Enloe made their pitch in Shreveport, La., prior to today’s ArenaCup championship game.

Prior to Kurz’s call, Nelson said, “They were really impressed and really wanted us. … We’ll find out tomorrow. … We’ve been assured by the president of the league we’ll be in but the owners have to vote. Something catastrophic could happen but we don’t expect it.”

Nelson hopes to announce details next month in conjunction with the Spokane Arena’s “Tencennial” celebration.

Shock is one of the nicknames under consideration.

The team begins play next spring, though league owners are discussing moving the opening day from March to February.

“Brady told me he was going to go to the meetings and he was going to come back with a team,” Spokane Arena general manager Kevin Twohig said. “That’s great.

“We haven’t exchanged agreements yet. We’ve talked about a deal. I’m pretty certain we’ll be able to pull one together because we’re both pretty certain what the market will bear. But we haven’t done it yet. We’re both fairly confident it will come together.”

The af2 league is a subsidiary of the Arena Football League, which has prominent owners from the major professional leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL). But the af2 is not an official minor league, though it has the same commissioner and same rules. The 8-on-8 game is played on a 50-by-25-yard field with padded sideline barriers.

“The af2 is for markets out of the top 50 in size,” Nelson said.

The af2 currently has four five-team divisions split into two conferences. Everett is joining with Spokane. Boise and Portland are expected to join in 2007. The Western Conference includes teams in San Diego, Bakersfield, Calif., and Fresno, Calif.

Biloxi, Miss., was also accepted for next year. Presentations were on-going for a fourth team.

Originally, Nelson hoped to put a team in the National Indoor Football League but he jumped at being part of the AFL.

He said the AFL is more prestigious and stable, having been around 20 years.

The NIFL is a 5-year-old independent league that accepts any franchise that puts up the money, according to Nelson. The Everett Hawks were in the NIFL last season, winning the West Division of the Pacific Conference, but the Tri-Cities Fever made the playoffs and ended up winning the championship.

Veteran NFL defensive tackle Sam Adams, who played for the Seahawks from 1994-99, was expected to be part owner with Nelson.

However, Nelson said Adams, who is involved with the Everett franchise, will have more of an advisory role. Adams will probably help find players, who receive $200 a game plus $50 for a win.

The af2 teams play 16-game schedules.

“They won’t get the Chiefs’ dates,” Twohig said, referring to the Western Hockey League team that is the Arena’s main tenant. “That’s one of my concerns but (Nelson) doesn’t seem too concerned about not having weekend dates, basically not having dates to play in the early part of the season.

“March is a solidly booked month, April is a little more open but not much, then May and June get progressively open until we get to July when we don’t have anything going on.”

 

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