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Spokane Shock expected to be back in the game with Indoor Football League

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 2, 2019

Spokane Shock receiver Mike Washington is introduced before the Philadelphia Soul game, April 4, 2015, in the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Shock receiver Mike Washington is introduced before the Philadelphia Soul game, April 4, 2015, in the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

After a two-year absence, it appears arena football is returning to Spokane, along with the popular Shock name.

Spokane is expected to return to the Indoor Football League for the 2020 season, a league source confirmed. The news was first reported by Sports Coast to Coast.

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Sam Adams will be the majority owner, a source said.

On Monday morning, the official Twitter feed of the Spokane indoor football team, previously known as the Empire, changed their handle to @TheSpokaneShock. The account also posted for the first time in more than two years, sending out an image of the former team logo.

Spokane has been approved for IFL membership with an official announcement expected in the near future. The IFL will also add franchises in Oakland, California, and Portland, according to a source.

That would give the IFL seven Western teams, with the three new franchises joining San Diego, Tucson, Arizona and Albuquerque. The Albuquerque-based Duke City Gladiators, champions of the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) the past two years, announced earlier this month that they’re joining the IFL next season.

There are six IFL teams in the Midwest, including 2019 league champion Sioux Falls.

Adams reportedly has approached former Spokane Shock and Empire coach Adam Shackleford, but at this point Shackleford doesn’t plan on returning to the sidelines, according to a source.

The Spokane Empire ceased operations following the 2017 IFL season, citing declining attendance and losses of “multiple seven figures” over its last four years of operation, owner Nader Naini said at the time. Naini owned the team from 2014-17.

The team averaged 10,000-plus fans at the Spokane Arena from 2007-11, but that figure faded to 4,682 per game by 2017.

Spokane was in the IFL for two seasons after playing in the Arena Football League from 2010-15 and in arenafootball2 from 2006-09. The team was known as the Shock until it entered the IFL. Naini attempted to acquire the Shock trademark from the AFL but declined, with the price tag in excess of $300,000.

The franchise rebranded as the Spokane Empire, losing some fans in the process due to the name change and the move to the IFL.

Naini acquired the Shock trademark about a year after the franchise folded, trading the Empire name to the AFL in exchange for the Shock trademark. Adams has purchased the Shock logo and trademark from Naini, according to a source.

Adams has previously been an arena football team owner with Cincinnati and Everett. Adams played for the Seahawks from 1994-99 and also had stints with Baltimore, Oakland, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Denver.

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