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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane closing in on arenafootball2 team

Brady Nelson’s dream of an arena football team in Spokane is getting closer to reality – and it has grown a little bigger along the way.

Nelson, one of three prospective owners, will make Spokane’s pitch to join arenafootball2 for the 2006 season at league meetings on Aug. 26 in Bossier City, La., where the af2’s Arena Cup will be staged the following day. When Nelson originally announced his plans about six weeks ago, it was with the intention of joining the NIFL (National Indoor Football League), but discussions have escalated with arenafootball2.

“It’s going great,” Nelson said. “Anything can happen until the papers are signed, and the next major event is when we go in front of the other owners, but all indications are that we are in good shape.”

Spokane already has the approval of af2’s executive committee, which forwarded a favorable recommendation to the expansion and relocation committee. That committee will convene by telephone prior to the Arena Cup. The final hurdle will be Aug. 26, when Nelson and Brady Gardner, an owner along with NFL player Sam Adams, state Spokane’s case to the 20 af2 team owners. A three-fourths majority is needed, said af2 president Jerry Kurz.

“The executive committee was very much in favor of adding Spokane and some other Northwest teams,” Kurz said. “Spokane alone would be difficult because they’d be an island by themselves. We have four teams in California, and we’re looking to bring three or four more teams in to be the foundation of a Northwest division. We very much desire having a footprint in the Northwest.”

Kurz declined to identify other Northwest cities under consideration, but it’s believed to be Boise, Portland, Everett and possibly Tri-Cities. Adams, a former Seattle Seahawk currently with Buffalo, owns the Everett franchise that plays in the NIFL but would likely make the transition to af2. Kurz said there is no problem with Adams having an ownership role in Everett and Spokane because Sam would be “more of an investor” with Spokane.

A four-team Northwest contingent along with the four California-based teams would be ideal for af2’s 16-game schedule.

“The Arena Cup is broadcast nationally on Fox, and we’ll be announcing on that broadcast our new teams for next year, and we anticipate Spokane will be one of those teams,” Kurz said. “We very much want them, and they’ve passed every test so far, and we don’t anticipate anything changing. They’re in a great area, a great market, and they’d be a great addition.”

Nelson said lease negotiations are “coming along” with the Spokane Arena.

Kurz said af2 will likely adjust its schedule to begin in mid-February instead of the current start-up in March.

Nelson has a team name in mind and is considering several uniform colors and styles, but he wants to make sure they don’t conflict with other af2 teams. Nelson is close to an agreement with a head coach who has had arena coaching experience.

Af2 players make $200 per game and another $50 per win. Teams are comprised of 20-man active rosters. Versatility is important as most players have roles on offense and defense. It’s 8-versus-8 competing on a 50-yard field with padded sideline barriers.

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