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IPFL plans growth

by Paul Reeths
June 6, 2001 - Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL)

IPFL plans growth

by Paul Reeths

With last week's collapse of the Trenton Lightning, the Indoor Professional Football League looked to the rest of the 2001 season with just four teams. One might think the future of the IPFL never appeared dimmer, but Commissioner Rich Coffey would disagree.

During a media conference call Wednesday, Coffey cited the strength of the remaining team ownership as one reason for his optimism and confirmed that the IPFL has recently held discussions with the West Coast Hockey League concerning between three and six IPFL expansion franchises. According to Coffey, the WCHL has an option for three IPFL teams next season and three more in the near future.

In addition, the league is in talks with several other markets including Topeka, Kansas and Tacoma, Washington. The league hopes to place the Portland Prowlers in the Tacoma Dome next season. Fort Wayne, Indiana, is on the expansion list after renovations to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum are complete.

Coffey is also hopeful of soon finding ownership for the Boise Stallions. The team had been supported by Trenton owner Phil Subhan before he parted ways with the rest of the Lightning ownership last month. In the wake of his departure, the remainder of the Trenton ownership ceased operations of the Lightning and the Stallions. Coffey further stated that the league would also pursue Subhan's debts to the league in court.

The four year old league experienced a tumultuous offseason in which former commissioner Mike Storen left office right before the season started and three of its member teams defected to the new National Indoor Football League. Carolyn Shiver, then the owner the IPFL's Alexandria, Louisiana franchise, started the NIFL over what Coffey referred to as differences with Storen. Coffey stated that the league planned to continue lawsuits against two NIFL member clubs, Mississippi and Mobile, over the defections.

Originally known as the Professional Indoor Football League, the league limped through its inaugural season in 1998, but survived a threatened lawsuit by the Arena Football League and the collapse or defection of all but one of its ownership groups following the season. Storen, a former commissioner of the old American Basketball Association, took over as commissioner late that year and helped the league back onto its feet. A rift between Storen and a block of team owners led to his leaving the league and Coffey's hiring as commissioner. Last week's game between Boise and Trenton was the first the league had cancelled since the inaugural season.

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