Plans for Danville indoor football team abandoned

Plans for Danville indoor football team abandoned

DANVILLE — The owner of the Danville Dragons indoor football team has abandoned plans to bring the United Indoor Football League expansion team to Danville this spring, according to a message posted on the team's Facebook page.

The team's owner, David Hawkins, has not officially notified the league of his decision, according to UIFL President Andrew Haines, who said Monday that he's left numerous calls and text messages for the team's ownership and has received no communication back.

On Monday, Haines described the situation as "bizarre," adding that Hawkins and his son, Michael Hawkins, the team's general manager, have not been communicating with the league, so the league has moved forward without the Danville Dragons on its schedule. League play begins in March, and the Dragons' first game was scheduled for March 1 and the home opener March 10.

Hawkins also has not officially notified the David S. Palmer Arena that the games will not be played at the arena, which was to be the site of the team's home games, according to Peter Blackmon, general manager of the arena.

Hawkins could not be reached for comment by The News-Gazette. The general manager of Hawkins' newest expansion indoor football team, the Mesquite Bandits in Texas, said that Hawkins could be reached by email only. But Hawkins did not respond to an email from The News-Gazette.

On Friday, a message was posted on the Danville Dragons Facebook page saying, "I regret to inform everyone that the Danville Dragons will not be playing in 2012 due to the lack of sponsors, ticket sales and community support. If you are interested in buying full-size helmets, mini helmets, footballs and apparel, please let us know. Sorry for the news."

The post did not indicate the author of the message.

In June, league officials announced that Danville would be home to a new expansion team in the northern division of the Ultimate Indoor Football League. The team solicited from the community suggestions for a team name, and in late July announced the Danville Dragons. The next month, tryouts were held, and again in the fall.

This past week, it was announced that the newly formed United Indoor Football League acquired all the assets of the Ultimate Indoor Football League from majority owner Cecil VanDyke and Assured Equities IV, according to the Ultimate Indoor website.

Haines, who was co-founder of Ultimate Indoor and will continue as the new league's president, said the league changes have nothing to do with the decision of the Danville Dragons ownership. Haines said the league wanted the Danville Dragons on the schedule.

He said he reached out to them to make sure they would be on board with the new league and the initial response was yes. But since then, Haines said, there has been no communication, and the league didn't have time to wait.

"I really liked Danville personally. I hope that we can get some things worked out in the future," Haines said. "That market can do well there."

Haines said the Dragons were doing a very good job on the player personnel side and put together a good team. But, he said, often teams get caught up on the football side and neglect the business side. Haines said he had been told that the team was having issues on the business side, and he had asked about their marketing efforts but never got any good answers.

"Winning a championship isn't going to help your bottom line. ... You have to have the community buy into the team. That's how you have long-term success," he said. "It's not the community's responsibility to just jump on board with the team."

Haines said he also understands that Hawkins has acquired another indoor football team in another league.

A Nov. 15 news release on the website of the Mesquite Bandits football team announced that the Bandits were invited to be a charter member of the Lone Star Football League for its 2012 inaugural season. The Bandits were the eighth indoor professional football organization to join the league, and Hawkins was listed as the team owner.

Hawkins said in the release that he was "extremely excited, humbled, and privileged to have the Mesquite Bandits become the newest member of the Lone Star Football League."

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ilmsff7 wrote on January 24, 2012 at 9:01 am

Bizarre. 

MPCPlatinum wrote on January 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

It's disappointing to hear this, but having lived in Danville for 28 years, I imagine within 3 years this team would have needed to relocate anyway from lack of interest/low revenue. People in Danville constantly complain about a lack of activities, but as soon as they have to spend more than $10.00 to do something, they abandon the thought, and go drink beer at a friends house instead. The only reason the Danville Dans are still around is because half the tickets are given away free at the gate, or some largish employer in the area hands out tickets at work.

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