COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new indoor football team is coming to Columbus in 2021.
Local businessman Steve Germain and his family announced the return of indoor football to Columbus on Thursday, just weeks after the Arena Football League ceased operations.
A new Indoor Football League (IFL) team will begin play in Nationwide Arena starting in March 2021.
In addition to owning and operating the new team, Germain and his family have acquired the exclusive rights to the business operations of the IFL, including the rights to manage and advance all IFL national and international television broadcast rights, IFL digital streaming rights, and IFL licensing rights, along with the sponsorship and advertising assets associated with those rights and all other national sponsorship and advertising assets and rights owned by the league, according to a press release.
Additionally, Germain and his family’s new organization will own and operate an IFL team in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, TX, which will begin play in March 2020.
“This is a very exciting day for our family and for indoor football fans in Central Ohio,” said Germain on behalf of his family. “We have been avid supporters of the indoor game and have been closely aligned with it since the Columbus Destroyers originally launched in 2004. When the Destroyers returned last year, we were all in, and it was a sad day when the AFL announced it was shutting down, which was the second time that happened through no fault of our loyal fans.
“Now, with the acquisitions, we have made we are in a position to build and grow the indoor game in a meaningful way. We understand that there is so much work to do and we are in it for the long term.”
Germain chose The TEAM Management, LLC of Columbus to manage the teams and the league-wide business assets acquired from the league.
TEAM is led by President and CEO Dave Whinham.
Whinham, who started his career as an assistant coach in Arena Football, earning four championship rings in the process, originally led the transaction to bring the Destroyers to Columbus in 2004 and operated that team during its early seasons, setting then-league records for sponsorship sales, ticket sales, and merchandise sales while selling out every game of the inaugural season at Nationwide Arena.
Whinham also led the sponsorship sales efforts and media placement for the most recent iteration of the Destroyers on behalf of the AFL.
“Columbus could have no better ownership group than Steve Germain and his family, and the IFL could have no better partner as the league continues to grow and develop,” Whinham said. “We know the Columbus market loves the indoor football game and we are excited to bring it to our community within economic models that make sense and can be sustained.”
Added Todd Tryon, Commissioner of the IFL: “The IFL is the longest-running indoor football league in the United States. The addition of Steve Germain and his family certainly lifts our league to greater heights, and we could not be more excited about the role Steve, his family, and The TEAM will play as it relates to the future of our league. This is a great day for the IFL, a great day for Columbus, and a great day for indoor football fans in Central Ohio and across the country.”
Leading the new Columbus team will be former Ohio State football great Bobby Olive, who will serve as head coach of the new team. A former All Big-Ten wide receiver at The Ohio State University, Olive enjoyed a successful playing career in the NFL, NFL Europe, and the CFL before landing in the Arena Football League where he played for the Buffalo Destroyers and later the Columbus Destroyers, while also spending a season as an assistant coach in Columbus.
Following his days in Columbus, Olive continued coaching in the AIFL with the Canton Legends for two seasons, leading the Legends to their first championship as a first-year head coach.
Olive also announced that former Buckeyes Stanley Jackson (Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach) and Winfield Garnett (OL/DL Coach) will join the team’s coaching staff for its inaugural season. Joining them will be AFL veteran and former Columbus Destroyer Cecil Doggette.
Doggette, who will serve as the team’s Defensive Coordinator, concluded his AFL career in Columbus as the league’s all-time leader in pass breakups.
“I’m excited to get back to Columbus,” said Olive, who currently resides in Atlanta with his wife and children. “I know Buckeye Nation is going to support our organization and we expect to be the class of the league, both on the field and off. Mr. Germain and his family have made a huge commitment not only to Columbus, but to the entire sport, and we expect to reward that commitment with a product that everyone will be proud to support.”
All home games will be played in Nationwide Arena, the premier professional sports venue in Columbus.
“We have the utmost confidence in Steve Germain, his family, and The TEAM to do this the right way,” said Bredan Buckley, Vice President of Columbus Arena Sports & Entertainment (CASE), the company responsible for managing Nationwide Arena, Schottenstein Center, and Ohio Stadium. “We already know that Columbus, Ohio, loves football, and it has always supported the indoor game. We are looking forward to working with the IFL.”