Green Bay Blizzard Chief Operating Officer Art Clarkson, he received a call at about 10 a.m. Saturday, notifying him that some Chicago players and coaches would not be getting on the bus to Green Bay because of a payment dispute.
On Monday, Clarkson made his displeasure of the situation known.
There's a matter of professional pride and 14...13 players for the Chicago Slaughter showed that pride; and I respect those guys," said Clarkson.
Clarkson says eight Chicago players ended up taking the bus (a handful of others drove their personal cars to Green Bay); Clarkson says the rest of the Chicago roster was fielded with inactive players from the Blizzard or other arena players who still live in the Green Bay area.
Chicago Slaughter President and General Manager Jeff Sedivy spoke with FOX 11 in a phone interview about the series of events that lead up to the no-shows by players and coaches.
"I don't think there's any blame to be placed anywhere, said Sedivy. I think it was a situation that could have been handled better from the players standpoint; it could have been handled better from my standpoint."
Sedivy says missing the playoffs, cancellation of bye-week practices and the ill-timed release of game checks played a part in the debacle. Sedivy, who is in his second season with the team, says the team is aware of the communication issues it is having and working to resolve them.
We had a couple key veteran players decide that they really didn't want to make the trip and I think that started a domino affect," said Sedivy. The guys who did go are going to get rewarded for going. The guys that did not go I don't know what the league is going to do. From our standpoint, our relationship has ended with those guys."
FOX 11 left a message for IFL Commissioner Robert Loving. Our calls were not returned.
So as the Blizzard season comes to an end and the remaining IFL teams prepare for the playoffs, what might be in store for next season?
"I want to see the team move on, said Clarkson, optimistic about the pieces the team currently has on the field and the sidelines. But there's some questions. One of the biggest questions is league stability."
Currently nine teams make up the Indoor Football League. But there are other options the Blizzard could consider.
FOX 11 looked at other leagues that have similar geographic make-ups; one being the seven-team Continental Indoor Football League, another being the ten-team Champions Professional Indoor Football League.
Clarkson wouldn't speculate about the IFL's future given Chicago's end of season troubles.
A key to variety
"They are filling dates that are generally available," said Terry Charles, spokesman for PMI Entertainment Group.
Charles says no matter what league they play in, the Blizzard is key to keeping a diverse portfolio for the Resch Center.
"We want to offer as many different types of things as we can, explained Charles. So if we have indoor football (the Blizzard), hockey, basketball, concerts the biggest variety we can put in this building, the better."
Clarkson say there is demand for indoor football, saying the Blizzard averages about 3,800 people a game.
This year's Blizzard team is the first team since 2004 to have a losing season, it's third losing season in its ten year history.
http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/sports/b ... n-odd-note
However, Slaughter coach Steve McMichael and some of the players decided not to make the trip.
The Green Bay Blizzards season finale against the Slaughter, scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at the Resch Center, didnt begin until 8:19. The Blizzard eventually lost 60-57 on a missed field goal as time expired.
The 13 Slaughter players who did make the trek, like quarterbackCody Kirby, were late because they had not received their paychecks from several of their previous games until Saturday, according to Blizzard chief operating officer and part owner Art Clarkson.
Upset by the situation, several Chicago players were said to have gotten off the busto Green Bay.
Needing eight players to field a 21-man roster, the remaining players for the Slaughter were a mixture of semi-pro players from Northeastern Wisconsin and former Blizzard players.
I was chilling at my moms house, said Marjahone Twitty, who is a running back for the Manitowoc Mariners semi-pro team.
I was going through emails and (my coach) shot me an email telling me to come out.
Twitty started as a defensive back, wearing No. 23 with a different last name on the back of his jersey.
Whoever it belonged to originally, though, may not be playing in the Indoor Football League again.
Clarkson said he is going to ask the IFL to ban McMichael and the Chicago players who didnt make the trip from being a part of the league again.
I heard the IFL was supposed to be getting stronger, but now when I see this, it makes me question that, said Collins, who has been attending Slaughter games since 2007.
The problem is ownership. I love the entertainment, but it just turns you off when the ownership, the league isnt putting forth their best effort.
Following seven seasons in arenafootball2, the Blizzard joined the IFL in 2010, when the league consisted of 25 teams.
That number has dwindled to nine franchises in 2013, which with a 4-9 record entering the finale, has been Blizzards worst since going 2-14 in its inaugural season in 2003.
After getting off to a 1-5 start, the Blizzard fired coach Robert Fuller and promoted defensive coordinator Chad Baldwin to the position.
Green Bay won its first three games under Baldwin before going on a four-game losing streak. As a result, this season marks the first time the squad has missed the playoffs since 2004.
The Blizzard drew 3,035 fans Saturday, giving it an average of 3,810 for its seven home games. That included 5,880 on March 23, which was the most it has seen during its four years in the IFL.
But after having to scramble to ensure his team would have an opponent Saturday, Clarkson indicated his ownership group will have to look at all options this offseason.
Im going to be honest with you, were so upset right now were going to revaluate the whole thing, Clarkson said.
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Green Bay would be on the outside of the CIFL's footprint as well.
I personally would like to see the IFL ban the strikers but I don't know if they can. The team is based in Illinois and labor law is pretty strict in that state. Of course if it wasnt a formal strike they can just say that they quit and are not eligable for re-hire.
From an organizational standpoint Green bay is indeed at a crossroads. The upstart CPIFL with their local focus and regional travel (this year at least) could be very appealing and with the Bloomington franchise in the area isn't as far out of wack as one might think.
The IFL does offer a higher level of talent on the field, but what does that talent mean in terms of the fanbase and sponsorship, I.E. revenue? Appeared to the group of friends and I that watched that game that Green Bay has very dedicated fans, that show up to watch their team regardless, and stay through an hour delay while Chicago is calling guys off the street. . In all reality the CPIFL's focus on more local talent might actually get a few more butts in the seats in Green Bay.
If we play this not all that far fetched scenario out, with Chicago folded, and Green Bay off to "greener" pastures in the CPIFL that leaves the IFL with 7 member clubs, and puts their proverbial squirrel food in a vice, so to speak.
Safe to say based on comments made by the very public ownership in Cedar Rapids they want nothing to do with the CPIFL, and Sioux Falls wouldn't likely to be allowed in given the history between Sioux Falls and Sioux City.
Nebraska fits the CPIFL geography very nicely. Colorado and Wyoming don't fit the geography as well, but could hypothetically work (provided Nebraska moved with them) Allen is in the same geographical boat as Colorado and Wyoming, about 6 hours from Wichita and 4 from Tulsa. Tri-Cities (which really doesn't even make sense in the IFL right now, geographically) just cannot be considered.
The owners in Tri-Cities are some of the best, as are their fans, but sometimes good people and good business can't co-exist.
I think Chicago appears to be a lock now with financial issues, and I would see GB leaving as more of a financial situation than anything. If GB uses the Chicago game as the reason for leaving then it would appear to be more of a cop out for their unwillingness to come back because of their terrible season and lack of financial ability to be in the IFL without Chicago.
All that said, moving to the CPIFL or CIFL for stability would seem counterproductive as it appears 2-3 teams from each of those leagues are going to fold as well.