It is the best of times for the Lehigh Valley SteelHawks Professional Indoor Football team: They are set to move into a new home in a brand new arena with a brand new field. Sponsors and fans are lining up. The roster is stacked with talent. We’re all just waiting for the season to kick off in March and the home opener April 12, 2015 at the PPL Center in Allentown against the….well:
It’s the worst of times in Harrisburg, PA: One of the SteelHawks’ chief rivals, the Harrisburg Stampede, has ceased operations. President and General Manager Marques Colston, WR from the New Orleans Saints, made the announcement yesterday. Here is his statement:
“It is with great sadness today that I’ve had to inform the players, staff and coaches of the Harrisburg Stampede that after careful thought and deliberation with advisors and confidants, I have made the difficult decision to suspend all current operations of the Harrisburg Stampede.
Unfortunately, due to the ever-changing economic landscape it has become increasingly difficult to continue operations. This is a decision that I deeply regret having to make at this time, as I realize the impact it has on the many people that have worked tirelessly and with great determination to make this venture a success.
I am proud of all that this organization has accomplished over the last three years. Of the many highlights, including our 2013 league championship, we are most proud of our ability to affect positive change within the Greater Harrisburg community through our outreach efforts. Harrisburg has always been, and will continue to be, the place I call home, and I plan to continue to fulfill a mission to give back.
This organization is proud to play in a region with such a strong football background. We will be available to provide resources to the PIFL as they work to develop an alternative solution.
In closing, I wish to thank those fans that have supported the Stampede, as well as our corporate partners. Lastly, to those that worked so hard, I extend my heartfelt thanks and admiration for your efforts.”
Unfortunately, schedules are already set, and I’m sure players have already been added to Harrisburg’s roster. The PIFL responds:
The PIFL has been in communication with the ownership of the Harrisburg Stampede regarding their recent decision not to participate in the 2015 season. The league is disappointed with this unforeseen situation and the approach taken by the team at this late stage of the pre season period after having placed dependence on commitments, representations and actions by the leadership of the Harrisburg Stampede organization. The league is evaluating an appropriate set of alternatives and next steps. The PIFL looks forward to bringing its fourth season of high quality sports and family entertainment to the markets it serves and will provide updates as refined plans are put in place.
I suppose the league could step in and run the team–or perhaps another owner can be found to step in and head the Harrisburg organization. Sources within the PIFL have told me that there are established ownership groups interested in PIFL franchises; however, the PIFL organization has been cautious about expanding too quickly. Could one of those groups step in? That is unknown at this point–those groups likely have a regional or local base where they feel most comfortable operating. In addition, with the late nature of this announcement–schedules and many roster decisions have already been made–it would be difficult for such a group to step in.
Stay tuned. We’ll follow up as soon as more news becomes available, as we’ll need to know who we’re playing April 12!
See you at the arena,