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Spokane IFL team can’t keep Shock name

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 19, 2015, 6:17 p.m.

The AFL will keep the Shock name, forcing the new Spokane IFL team to pick a new name. The team said fans will have a say in the new name. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
The AFL will keep the Shock name, forcing the new Spokane IFL team to pick a new name. The team said fans will have a say in the new name. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Shock will have a new name and logo when they debut in the Indoor Football League in 2016.

Several weeks of negotiations failed to reach an agreement with the Arena Football League, which will retain the rights to Shock trademarks.

“Despite our best efforts with the AFL, they are unwilling to let us continue with the team name this franchise has used since 2006,” Spokane majority owner Nader Naini said in a release. “We’re sorry it didn’t work out but as many of you know this is not unprecedented in professional sports.

“Nonetheless, our history will remain as a part of the community and our dedication to the city of Spokane will continue as will the excitement and passion that you have come to know over our last 10 seasons.”

When Spokane officially announced in September it was leaving the AFL for the IFL, the franchise believed it would keep Shock trademarks, which are owned by the AFL, if it left in good financial standing. However, the AFL released a statement a week ago saying discussions had failed to “come to fruition” and it was retaining trademark rights.

Spokane thought it had reached tentative agreements with the AFL three times during negotiations. Each time the AFL board of directors responded by raising the price. One source said the AFL was asking in the neighborhood of $250,000 to release trademark rights.

“There were differing views on some bills, a standstill on what we felt we were responsible for and what the AFL felt we were responsible for,” Spokane director of operations Ryan Eucker said.

The reason for those differing views was apparently over an interpretation of Washington workers’ compensation laws. Eucker declined to elaborate. Spokane was willing to pay a certain amount but declined when the figure kept rising.

AFL President Jerry Kurz didn’t return a phone message.

The Iowa Barnstormers retained trademark rights when it exited the AFL following the 2014 season to join the IFL.

“Under the operating agreement and other provisions of league rules if a team was current on all of its obligations to the league at the time of the exit they were entitled to their marks,” Iowa team President Jeff Lamberti, who served on the AFL board of directors from 2010-14, wrote in an email. “We were current on all obligations.”

Team officials said Spokane was meeting its financial obligations, an ongoing process during the offseason. Spokane was one of numerous ownership groups that helped pay expenses when the AFL was forced to take over struggling franchises annually after the league relaunched in 2010.

Eucker’s to-do list Monday was long, including updating the team website to remove Shock mentions and Shock logos. By midmorning, a football with “Spokane” lettering in orange had replaced virtually all of the dozens of Shock logos on the website. The team’s Twitter handle and Facebook page were in the process of being changed.

Spokane is moving forward with rebranding. Fans are asked to email name suggestions and/or logo concepts to info@spokanefootball.com until Friday at noon. Suggestions will be vetted by a panel consisting of ownership, staff, season-ticket holders, sponsors and community representatives as well as the team’s legal staff to determine three finalists.

The selection of a new team name will be announced in the coming weeks. Fans responsible for the top three will each receive a pair of 2016 season tickets. The team expects to continue with the navy blue, orange and white color scheme.

The Shock, founded in 2006, won two championships as members of arenafootball2 from 2006-09 and one in the AFL from 2010-15. The franchise opted to leave the AFL, the highest level of arena football, citing the league’s instability and failed business model.

The IFL, which has lower operating costs and pays players $250 per game compared to roughly $900 in the AFL, has 12 teams and hopes to expand to 16. The AFL had 18 franchises in 2011 but is now at nine.

Spokane quickly brought back Adam Shackleford for his second stint as head coach. Shackleford, who coached IFL Tri-Cities from 2010-15, went 49-8 as Shock coach from 2007-09 in arenafootball2. He guided Spokane to a 74-27 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the 2009 title game after a 56-55 loss to Tennessee Valley in the 2008 championship.


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