May 25, 2013

Going Xtreme: Rampage will help form new indoor league

Devin Golden
devingolden@daltoncitizen.com

— The Georgia Rampage are leaving the Ultimate Indoor Football League for a new organization that team co-owner Kacee Smith is co-founding.

Smith said Friday night that Dalton’s professional indoor football team, which plays its home games at the trade center, is set to leave the UIFL and be a founding member of the Xtreme Indoor Football League.

Smith said one of the co-founders is Andrew Haines, owner of the Missouri Monsters, another UIFL franchise. The other is Lamonte Coleman, owner of the Marion (Ohio) Blue Racers, which compete in the Continental Indoor Football League. All three owners will be one-third partners in starting the league, which will be based in St. Charles, Mo., the home of the Monsters.

Smith said the league launches today with its website, www.xiflfootball.com, going live and the founding teams letting their current leagues know of their departure. Friday marked the end of the final week of the regular season for the UIFL.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for a while,” Smith said. “It’s something we’re pretty stoked about.

“Out of respect for the leagues, we didn’t want to announce everything during other leagues’ seasons.”

The original plan for the XIFL’s first season, which Smith said will take place in the spring of 2014, was for 8-10 teams. However, interest has been higher than expected, Smith said.

“With the way it looks with the marketing packet and the blueprint for our league, we haven’t even launched yet and we already have six or seven teams ready to sign letters to come in,” Smith said. “We may have North and South divisions, which would be pretty cool.”

A couple of the plans for the league should set it apart, Smith believes. First is the financial structure. Smith said the XIFL will use revenue sharing and expense redistribution among teams, which the UIFL does not use. That will include evenly redistributing to teams the territory fees franchises must pay when joining, as well as evenly dispersing to teams any money received from league sponsors.

“As the league grows, the teams grow,” Smith said. “We didn’t want to be a league that just stands there with our hands out.”

Smith also said teams will “keep everything they make” from advertising, sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandise.

Another quirk for the league will be taking away a portion of what has been an integral part of the game — kicking. Smith said that while kickoffs will remain, there won’t be any punts or field goals; when defenses force a turnover on any down or make a stop on fourth down, they earn their team one point.

“We did tests and polls for this,” Smith said. “... A lot of fans hate kicking, and a lot of arenas make it tricky (because of low ceilings).”

Since the Rampage’s inception, the team has competed in the UIFL. In 2012, as a travel team that practiced in Calhoun, the team finished 1-6 overall. This spring, the Rampage went 3-5 and missed the postseason. The league planned to have seven teams this season, but lost the Miami Sting before the first game. Then the Sarasota (Fla.) Thunder had to cancel multiple games, including one against the Rampage.

In a previous interview with The Daily Citizen, Smith talked about indoor football franchises as a risky investment. He also said the Rampage’s first season in Dalton resulted in a financial loss.

Smith said the Rampage will also have a new website starting this afternoon, www.garampage.com.