Colorado man picks Danville for indoor football team

DANVILLE — The new owner of Danville's latest indoor football team has always had an eye on being involved with sports.

David Hawkins, the owner and CEO of the newly named Danville Dragons of the Ultimate Indoor Football League, was on hand at the name announcement made Monday at the team's new home, the David S. Palmer Arena.

The team name came from a community contest that had around 500 entries. 

Hawkins is originally from New York, but now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., and has been interested in sports from an early age.

"I wanted to play in the Super Bowl," Hawkins said with a chuckle. "But by my mid-teens, I knew I was too slow to play. Later, I knew owning an NFL team was too much for my wallet."

Hawkins said he has been looking at five or six teams over the past few months — football, lacrosse, hockey — and decided on indoor football after doing research on community support for the previous indoor team that made the Palmer Arena its home.

"When I saw the support the past team got, picking Danville was a no-brainer," Hawkins said. The Danville Demolition played the 2007 season in the American Indoor Football Association.

Currently employed at the El Paso County, Colo., sheriff's office, Hawkins is planning to retire in early 2012. He also owns PDHawk Investments.

Hawkins said he won't be looking at Danville team members as a constant.

"At this level, I look at it as a developmental league," he said. "If we can bring in 20 people, I don't want to see them back next year. I hope we will see the quality of player that gets picked up by the next competitive level."

Hawkins said his son, Michael Hawkins, will serve as the team's general manager and be moving to Danville by October. He was not available to attend the news conference.

"I still plan to be here for open tryouts and games, and not totally in the background as far as the team is concerned," David Hawkins said.

Open tryouts are set tentatively for Aug. 27 and 28.

"We want to keep the team community-oriented," Hawkins said. "If two people of similar abilities try out for a position, the community person is going to get it."

The Dragons will play a 14-game schedule, seven at home and seven away games, with the season running from March into June of 2012.

League majority owner Cecil Vandyke, who also owns several teams within the league, believes the league must stand behind its teams.

"It's important that no team fail," Vandyke said. "If a major sponsor backs out or some other financial shortfall unexpectedly arises, the league will be there with a temporary loan to see that doesn't happen."

Vandyke hopes to have more than 20 teams in the league with teams playing within their own regions to save on transportation costs.

Andrew Haines is president of the league and one of two original owners.

"The league was formed out of necessity because it needed a different business model than what we were working under," Haines said. "We wanted a league where you could enjoy owning a team without losing hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Haines said the league's team budgets are smaller, roughly $300,000, but depending on their location, and with more money going toward marketing and image. The league has salary caps not only for players but also for coaches.

Tickets for the games start at $7.

"That's where we will want to be," said Peter Blackmon, arena general manager. "We want families to find it affordable entertainment."

Teams will also have help from a professional marketing and printing company, and Vandyke has started a bus company, UIFL Bus Lines, to offer teams and fans a possible break on transportation expenses.

For more information on the league, visit http://www.theuifl.com or call 877-500-8435. The Dragons Website is still under construction, but some information is available at http://www.danvilledragons.com.

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