Tucson one step closer to having an arena football team

Updated: Aug. 9, 2018 at 6:50 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's all but certain Tucson will have an indoor football team playing its first season at the Tucson Convention Center in March, 2019.

The terms of the deal were approved by the Tucson City Council following on the heels of an agreement already approved by the owner of the TCC, Rio Nuevo.

This is an outline of the agreement as shared by Ward 6 City Council member Steve Kozachik.

"Here's the motion I read for arena football to direct the manager and city attorney to proceed as discussed in exec. and to finalize and execute a license agreement with Tucson Indoor Football so long as that agreement includes the following terms and conditions:

a) a term not to exceed 5 years b) no City commitment to any capital investments or up-front expenditures c) the team will pay a license fee of $8,824 per game, with a CPI adjustment for subsequent seasons d) for concessions and parking, the team will get 50 percent of the net revenues, with the city retaining the rest e) dates for games will not conflict with dates committed to other users under other agreements f) ability of city to terminate if the team defaults or breaches the agreement

He also says if the city manager works out a deal that includes these terms, it does not need to come back to council for final approval.

According to the owner of the team, Kevin Guy, the coach of the Arizona Rattlers arena football team in Phoenix, "We're happy with the agreement."

Rio Nuevo has also pledged $400,000 for necessary adjustments to the TCC in order to accommodate indoor football.

Guy says "there are still lots of things to finalize" before an agreement can be announced, but there is general optimism that there are no stumbling blocks.

"It's the same agreement we have with the Tucson Roadrunners," Kozachik said.

The Roadrunners, the minor league franchise of the Phoenix Coyotes, has had a successful initial two years at the TCC, which gives supporters a sense of optimism that the football team will be successful downtown too.

According to Mark Irvin, vice chair of the Rio Nuevo Board, the Arizona Rattlers draw 14,000 fans a game.

"If we do half that, which we should have no problem doing," he said. "Imagine 7,000 fans here for about seven games a year downtown, staying at hotels, eating, drinking and having fun."

For downtown it would also be an economic shot in the arm.

"When the Roadrunners play the restaurants are full before the game," said Irvin. "But they're also full following the game."

The streetcar, parking lots, Uber and Lyft all see an increase during the games.

The football games would extend the sports season, so to speak.

"It's a nice continuation of what's going on," Irvin said. "Hockey is going to end and we're going to hop right into football."

There will be some over lap in schedules that still needs to be worked out.

Guy believes if all is agreed to, the team can begin practice in February and begin the season sometime in March.

For fans like David Rodriquez, it's a dream come true.

"As soon as I heard arena football was going to be in Tucson, I jumped out of my chair I was so excited," he said.

He travels to Phoenix up to 20 times a year to catch Arizona Rattlers games, a team which has won five league championships.

He says the fan experience is like no other.

"At the Arizona Rattler games, they let you meet the players at the end of the game," he said "They're nice and friendly."

Still, if a team comes to Tucson who would he root for.

"I'm going to stick with my home town Tucson," he said.

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