Amid all the recent speculation that the NHL was looking to expand (it wasn’t), and other rumors that Hartford was one of the candidates (it wasn’t), the capital city still managed to score a new a new team. That’s right, the city of Hartford will be home to a charter franchise of the North American Football League whose inaugural season will kick off in the spring of 2015.
I know what you’re thinking, ‘Another pro football league that isn’t the NFL? Remember the UFL?’ Yeah, the Hartford Colonials didn’t really work out, only lasting a season with the United Football League, but that doesn’t matter to NAFL founder Chris White.
Plus, the NAFL won’t compete with the NFL directly. The NAFL will play a spring/summer schedule to avoid competition with the big boys, the NCAA’s, and high school’s fall schedules. The NAFL will sign players that have been cut by the NFL but will not market itself as a development outfit for the NFL.
‘What about finances? The UFL folded because of money issues, so what makes the NAFL so different?’ The NAFL is going to own and operate the 8 flagship teams, which is double the teams the UFL started with. Chris White has said that there is “enough financial support to be in a market for 4 years without turning a profit.” He also hopes to expand the league to 16 teams by 2019. The NAFL will also have its own TV network, host a training combine, and a draft.
The North American Football League has announced the other 7 teams that will play along with the Hartford team. They are – the Birmingham Freedom, Columbus Flight, Memphis Kings, Orlando Sentinels, Virginia Crusaders, North Carolina Redwolves, and Kentucky Thoroughbreds. The Virginia Crusaders will play in Richmond, North Carolina will be based in the Raleigh-Durham area, and the Kentucky Thoroughbreds will be in Louisville.
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about Hartford. What is their name going to be? Will they use the Colonials again? How about the Hartford Knights? The NAFL chose the “Hartford Merchantmen” and the team’s colors include navy blue, gray, and beige, which isn’t far off from the color scheme used by the former Colonials. The name and logo haven’t been well received, but the NAFL is encouraging the public to use social media to propose better names and logos. If the league finds one they like, they’ll rebrand the team. You can check out the logo at the league’s website, naflenterprises.com.
The Colonials played their home games at Rentschler Field, home to the University of Connecticut’s football team, but the Merchantmen haven’t chosen a home just yet. NAFL founder Chris White did tour Rentschler recently, but hasn’t entered negotiations yet. Another possible venue could be Dillon Stadium, which is much closer to the actual city, but would need a significant facelift. Rumor has it that people having been talking about putting some money into the stadium to attract a North American Soccer League team.
So what do you think? Will you go a Hartford Merchantmen (or whatever they may end up being called) game? What do you think of the name and logo?
Sources; The Courant, NAFLenterprises.com, Wikipedia | Photo; Facebook.com/theNAFL