Expansion Oakland Panthers join IFL for 2020 Sept 10, 2019 9:44:40 GMT -8
Post by David on Sept 10, 2019 9:44:40 GMT -8
OAKLAND, CA - The city of Oakland may be losing its beloved Raiders, but another football team is coming into town.
The Indoor Football League announced on Tuesday the addition of a new expansion team in the Oakland Panthers, slated to begin play in the 2020 season.
The Panthers are co-founded and owned by California businessman Roy Choi and former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch.
The team name, Panthers, is a nod to the history of the Black Panthers history of the 1960's in the Oakland area. According to the IFL's press release, the Panthers name "pays tribute to Oakland's History of activism with the groundbreaking social action of the Black Panther movement of the '60s."
"Oakland and the Bay Area embody activism, work ethic, passion, and loyalty," stated Choi in the press release. "Those qualities are represented by the Panther name and by my co-founder Marshawn Lynch. While I am obviously impressed by his on-field performance, it is his community work that is the most inspiring. There is no one better than Marshawn to lead such a community-oriented sports franchise like the Oakland Panthers. Additionally, we're also exploring ways the community can also have ownership in our team."
Oakland Panthers co-owners Marshawn Lynch (left) and Roy Choi (center) (image credit: Oakland Panthers/Twitter)
The Panthers will play at the Oakland Arena, formerly known as Oracle Arena, and will be the primary tenant at the venue. The arena's previous tenants, the NBA's Golden State Warriors, will be moving into the brand new Chase Center in San Francisco this fall.
Oakland will be coached by Kurt Bryan. Per the team's official website, Bryan is entering his 28th year of coaching football, recently serving as high school and collegiate football coach in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California for nearly three decades. He's also credited as the co-creator of the A-11 Offense in 2007, a formation that allows two quarterbacks on the field and that all position players are eligible as receivers.
"My goal is to develop Oakland's new indoor professional football team into an exciting, premier destination franchise for football fans to eagerly support and one that talented players will aspire to join," Bryan stated in the press release. "I believe every player in the league will look to the Panthers as a model franchise where they can grow their talent and perform at their highest level for passionate fans."
Lynch, the Super Bowl winning running back with the Seattle Seahawks and most recently played with the hometown Raiders, recently retired (again) from the NFL after 11 seasons. According to the Mercury News, Lynch views his ownership of the Panthers as a chance to fulfill a legacy he tried to create during his tenure with the Raiders.
Per the Mercury News, Lynch was quoted as saying, "My whole intention was to come back and play with them until they left. [Arena football] wasn’t something I was looking at — not even a little bit. But when the opportunity presented itself — I’m a big dude on believing in timing and (stuff). This, at the time, really made sense."
Meanwhile, this is the third IFL franchise with the ownership involvement of Choi. Last season, Choi, who holds the position of managing partner for Knighted Ventures, which invests and managed projects in entertainment and gaming, purchased majority ownership in the Cedar Rapids Titans. Under Choi's ownership, the franchise re-branded as the Cedar Rapids River Kings. Choi then founded the San Diego Strike Force. Both teams are coming off of trying seasons in which both teams went 1-13.
The two first became connected when Lynch attended a May 4th contest between the Nebraska Danger and the Arizona Rattlers. Lynch was in Phoenix to watch his younger brother, Davonte Sapp-Lynch, who was the starting running back for the Danger. Choi was in attendance along with Oakland Coliseum executive Scott McKibben. Lynch stated to the Mercury News that he met them after the game and both Choi and McKibben revealed they were going to bring an IFL franchise to Oakland, sparking interest for the former professional running back.
On why Lynch chose to invest, Lynch stated in the press release, "I believe the power of football has the ability to transform a community and the families who live there. I've seen it and lived it. I'm excited that Da' Town will get another team to call its own. I attended some Indoor Football games last year and had a good ass time. The games have lots of fluidity and tickets are priced so that the entire family can check it out."
Oakland Panthers helmets (image credit: Oakland Panthers/Twitter)
With the city of Oakland making its first presence in the world of arena/indoor football, it marks the first presence of indoor football in the Bay area since the San Jose SaberCats (1995-2015) of the Arena Football League.
The Panthers are the second official addition to the IFL during this off season. The league previously announced on August 20th that the Duke City Gladiators, based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, were making the leap from Champions Indoor Football after five seasons.
Oakland won't be the only addition the IFL looks to announce in the near future. Sources to SCtoC confirmed that the league has approved Spokane, Washington and Portland, Oregon to join for the 2020 season. Spokane, which will revive the Shock name, will be headlined by the ownership group led by former NFL defensive tackle Sam Adams. Meanwhile, Portland is reported to be owned by Terry Emmert, who previously owned the Portland Thunder in the Arena Football League.
SCtoC has also learned from sources that there could be at least one more expansion franchise, and one team relocation, but this site has decided not to include the specifics of those rumors in its official reports.
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