The Georgia Rampage’s league name has changed again, and Kacee Smith, the Dalton professional indoor football team’s co-owner and founder, had a say in the process.
That’s because he’s the new league’s first president.
Previously planned as the Xtreme Indoor Football League, what will now be known as the X-League will begin its inaugural season in March 2014. The league also expects to add an outdoor football league under the same name beginning in June.
Smith said the name change is mostly because of the addition of the outdoor component, which he doesn’t plan to create a team for. Removing the “indoor” word from the league’s name offered the chance for variety, Smith said. The organization will be split into the X-League Indoor and the X-League Outdoor.
“It’s so we can have everything under one umbrella,” said Smith, who moved the team to Dalton this season after playing previously as a travel-only team in their only other season, 2012. “Everyone involved in the league all came from outdoor football. We all moved to indoor football and grew within it but we wanted to come back to our roots.
“There are so many (players) who want to be in the outdoor scene and come from it. So we wanted to do an outdoor league from an indoor scale and budget. If you try to compete against the NFL, you’ll fail. This won’t be like that. This will be different.”
The Rampage went 3-5 this year and missed the playoffs while competing in the Ultimate Indoor Football League.
The team announced in May that it would leave the UIFL for the new Xtreme Indoor Football League. Smith is one of the league’s three co-founders, along with St. Louis Attack owner Andrew Haines and Marion (Ohio) Blue Racers owner Lamonte Coleman, although Coleman has since decided not to take part in the new league and will keep his team in the Continental Indoor Football League next season. The Attack were previously called the Missouri Monsters and were also a UIFL franchise.
Smith previously said the XIFL’s original plan for its first season was to include eight to 10 teams. However, he wants to “draw the line” at six franchises for the X-League’s first season. The Marine Raiders are the only other announced team. They were formerly the Lakeland (Fla.) Raiders, a UIFL franchise and rival of the Rampage, and Raiders co-owner Michael Mink is the X-League’s commissioner.
Mink and Haines selected Smith to be the league president.
“I’m excited,” Smith said of the added role. “I think I can bring a few different twists and ideas. It was something I always wanted to do in the future. I never thought it’d happen this quick. I’m going to be managing all aspects of the league as far as expansion, working with team owners and stuff. Michael will be working more of the football side with rules and game play. I’m more on the business side.”
Part of that includes the league’s revenue sharing and expense redistribution financial structure.
The territory fees that franchises must pay when joining the league will be evenly distributed, along with any money received from league sponsors.
“We aren’t set up to make money because we all individually own teams,” Smith said. “We’re a group of owners with the mindset to make strong individual teams. The mindset in the past was to make a strong league, but doing that doesn’t allow the teams to be strong.”
Smith said he believes the UIFL may be down to just two teams now, the Corpus Christi (Texas) Fury and Fort Myers (Fla.) Tarpons. The UIFL’s website still lists six teams, but half of those are the franchises that now make up the X-League. The Sarasota (Fla.) Thunder are the other team listed at uiflfootball.com.
“(UIFL team representatives) contacted us,” Smith said. “We’ve opened the door very wide for them to welcome them in (to merge).”
The organization has also announced the creation of X-League Indoor Football Brazil.
“They’re trying to get going more in American football and are interested in indoor football,” Smith said. “They are starting a league under our name. We hope down the line we can have an X-League team from here play the X-League champion from Brazil.”