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Over a Cup of Coffee

by Jerry Hewitt
March 14, 2010 - Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL)

If you want to build a successful indoor football franchise you have to get one thing out of your mind up front, its not about the game. It's a business plain and simple. To be more specific it's an entertainment business.

I think in building for the future you can learn from the past, learn from what others did right and wrong. Many teams in my ten years of following the sport have come and gone, the minority sticking around for more than a couple seasons.

When I am asked about how to build a successful franchise I always point to the Sioux Falls Storm of the IFL. Outside of last years internal problems on insurance coverage have always been the model for success. The Storm survived the absorbing of the original Indoor Football League by the AFL Orlando Predators and like some of their brothers left out of the af2 party. They chose the upstart NIFL to continue playing and survived that leagues less than honorable at times business practices. Through all of it they have done business as they believed would make them a long term success and for the most part has worked.

The Storm was not a build it and they will come idea, but one based on long term vision. They didn't start out packing the house for every game nor being one of the best on the field year in and year out. No, they worked for those things, earned their success through hard work. In their first five years they made the playoffs three out of the five and no higher than 3rd in their division four out of the five years. In their first five years they never won a championship, their playoff record, 3-3. It wasn't till their sixth year that they won their first championship and followed that one with three more consecutive titles. As you can see they built towards the success they have today, earned their place in indoor football history as one of the best.

So what did they do that I consider them a model to follow if you want a successful franchise. I think the first thing they did was have a long term vision for success. Second looked at what they could do to gain fan and sponsor support with a very limited budget.

The key to their success can be boiled down to one thing, community support. That one thing though came as a result of many separate actions, not just the build it and they will come attitude.

It is all about the community, nothing at all to do with the game itself. As I said earlier, this is a business, the product you have to sell being the game. No business ever sells its product without promoting it and proving its value to its market. In this business that means more than taking out ads, it does, lots more. There is a human side to promoting indoor football, selling a community on its value and that human side is making your team a valued part, even asset to that community.

One thing I have noticed about the Storm in and out of season is their name always popping up in the news. Off season its about they are doing this to help this charity or involved in that function. Its a good thing to help out your community, but the underlying theme here is keeping your name visible. We humans have short memories and need to be reminded often of certain things. Here in I think is the single biggest key to long term success, endearing yourself to the community.

Other keys of course are good management, a management team that shares the common goals and is in it to see success achieved, not to simply collect a paycheck.

Also we have the standard marketing and advertising. I'm not saying you can do without the advertising, but I do feel your costs directed in that direction can be minimized by committing to the community and enjoying the free press and news because of it. I also feel that advertising can be accomplished through team press releases. Not leaving or expecting the local media to follow your every step, but giving them reasons to follow you with frequent releases on what the team is up to.

Next I guess might be the product, the team and the games. You want your product to be the best among its competition and that makes sense since the best sells better than the worst. I'm not going to pretend to know how to build a winning team on the field, not my area of expertise, but know a winner is helpful to the over all effort.

Bottom line here is all involved must share the common dream and be willing to put in the time and effort to make that dream a reality. Is it easy, yes and no. Easy in theory maybe as the formula very simple, but no as in requires dedication, patience and hard work.

Few teams can say they have won four championships or say they sell out almost every game or say they have survived ten plus years. The Sioux Falls Storm can say this about all three. You may admire the Storm or not, but success is success, so why not at least try what has been proven to work?

Other things that caught my attention this morning was the IFL Pointstreak scoring system worked as advertised for all five games. Congratulations to the five home teams on that! Chicago losing to Richmond was a bit of a surprise. Final there was 35-20. Sioux Falls at Wichita was maybe the best game going, pretty close all the way through. The Storm stretched it out late in winning 43-34. After putting up 69 points last week, the Blizzard offense struggled last night in a losing effort to Bloomington, 20-34, but Sioux City who put up 61 last week against Green Bay only managed 26 against Omaha who put up 53. Leads me to believe both Green Bay and Sioux city may have a long year. Amarillo brought West Texas down to earth last night in a 53-27 win.

Over in the AIFA Reading. 1-1, beat the other Richmond, 0-1, team, 56-42. Today New Jersey opens their season against 1-0 Baltimore while Harrisburg, 0-1, visits Erie, 1-0. The AIFA site had both the score and stats posted when I checked late last night.

The CIFL opened their fifth season last night with one game, Miami Valley at Cincinnati. The Cincey Commandos won,53-26. Stats and the score were both posted in the CIFL Gamecenter.

The SIFL kicks off next weekend with two games, Houston at Louisiana and Lafayette at Greenville. Three of the four teams playing are new to the SIFL.

Unless you are a CIFL or SIFL only fan, plenty of football to follow today with two games over in the AIFA and two more in the IFL. Enjoy!

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Continental Indoor Football League Stories from March 14, 2010

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