INDOOR FOOTBALL

Local team expects to pursue ex-Cats

2010-06-15T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T09:06:04Z Local team expects to pursue ex-CatsRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 15, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Southern Arizona's sports landscape is riddled with failed pro franchises, a list that seemingly grows by the year.

Tucson's new Indoor Football League franchise believes it can succeed where the Amigos, Fireballs, Gila Monsters, Gunners, Heat, Icemen, Mavericks, Rustlers, Scorch, Sidewinders, Sky, Tiburons and Turquoise all fell short.

"I'm not really worried about that," said Tucson businessman Mario Wiggins, the team's majority owner. "It's going to succeed. There's no reason it's going to fail with me and my staff."

Owners of the yet-to-be-named team (see box) were introduced Monday at a news conference at the Westin La Paloma. Wiggins and partners Dart Clark, Terri Clark and Demond Williams believe the high-scoring, eight-on-eight football will lure fans to Tucson Convention Center in droves.

History, they said, is irrelevant. Here are four reasons why the owners believe Tucson's IFL team will succeed:

• The business plan. The IFL bills itself the most financially sound indoor-football league in the country. Unlike the better-known Arena Football League, the IFL has low overhead costs. Teams travel mostly by bus and offer cheaper tickets and more promotions to fans.

Tucson is the lynchpin of the new Southwest Division, one that could include as many as three more expansion franchises.

"We're very close with many of them," IFL commissioner Tommy Benizio said. "One of them has to be the first chip to fall. … That's why we're here, making the first announcement in Tucson."

• The ex-Cats. Unlike many IFL cities, Tucson has a built-in talent pool to pull players from - the UA. Williams, a former Pima College and Michigan State player and the franchise's director of player personnel, said he's already talked to a number of former Arizona Wildcats - "household favorites," he said - who want to play for the team.

Pushed for names - quarterback Willie Tuitama, perhaps? - Williams demurred.

"That's all I'm going to say," he said with a grin.

The franchise has its own former Wildcat on staff. Former Sunnyside High School and UA star David Adams will soon purchase a stake in the team; for now, he's working as an unofficial team ambassador.

Adams, who played professionally for the Dallas Cowboys, said the league could serve as a steppingstone to the NFL.

"The key thing in leagues like this is to give players out of college more film so they can get where they want to go," he said.

• The season. The IFL's season runs between March and July, a time of year that - with UA sports wrapping up and spring training and Triple-A baseball gone - could mark a dead period for Tucson.

Indoor football, with a competitive team and fun atmosphere, could fill the void.

"Tucson has another thing to do besides going to the movies," Adams said.

• The military. The new franchise will try to invigorate a fan base - active military - that others overlooked. Military members and their families will receive discounted tickets, director of sales Terri Clark said.

There's a reason: Wiggins, the team's majority owner, spent eight years in the Air Force. He now owns Relax Accommodations, a company that specializes in military housing; Williams, the team's personnel director, is Relax's president.

"Without military and community involvement, we're just a football team," Wiggins said. "With the military and community involvement, we're going to be a community playing football."

Assuming the community gets on board.

"Tucson has a bad taste for startups," Adams said. "With this, with the right backing, I think we're going to be able to pull this off."

On StarNet: Watch a video of the Indoor Football League announcement at the Westin La Paloma today at azstarnet.com/video

NAME THE TEAM

You can help name Tucson's new indoor-football team. Visit www.azstarnet.com/ nametheteam today to choose from eight proposed names, or suggest your own. Readers can vote as many times as they want; voting ends July 31.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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