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November 16, 2017

Fast-paced arena football franchise coming to Portland

Photo / James McCarthy
Photo / James McCarthy
Cross Insurance Arena in Portland is in negotiations with the National Arena League as the host for a new Portland arena football franchise's games starting next April. The indoor form of football is played on smaller fields than traditional gridiron football, resulting in faster high-scoring games.

Portland is one of four expansion cities that will join the National Arena League when its second arena football season begins next spring.

Two other new franchise cities named late Tuesday night are Worcester, Mass., and Greensboro, N.C. Returning franchises from the league's inaugural season include the defending champion Jacksonville, Fla. Sharks, Columbus, Ga., Lions and the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in Bethlehem, Pa. A previously announced expansion franchise is the Jersey Flight in Trenton, N.J.

"In only our second year, the NAL is poised for a breakout season" NAL Commissioner Chris Siegfried said in a news release. "Our returning teams, coupled with these additional new markets will continue to build upon the firm foundation of the sports premier arena league. April can't come soon enough to showcase what we have accomplished this offseason."

Arena football is played indoors on a smaller field than the traditional gridiron field — 50 yards instead of 100 yards — resulting in faster paced, high-scoring games.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the league is in negotiations to have the Portland team play at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The arena will also be home to the city's new minor league hockey team, the Mariners, which is returning professional hockey to Portland in the 2018-19 season following the departure of the Portland Pirates in 2016. The 7,500 seat arena is managed by Philadelphia-based Spectra, one of three businesses of Comcast Spectacor.

Matt Herpich, Cross Insurance Arena's general manager, said that although no contract has been signed yet, he's excited about the prospects of hosting arena football games at the arena. "I think it's going to be a positive to the county, the city and the building," Herpich told the newspaper, adding that the indoor football season, which runs from April until August, would provide additional income from the arena during its "down months" in the summer.

Details about Portland's expansion franchise would be unveiled during a news conference later this month, the league announced on its website. The league also stated that its 2018 schedule would be unveiled upon completion of the expansion announcements.

The National Arena League was founded in 2016.

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