EVERETT — More than three weeks after the relaunched Arena Football League reportedly awarded Everett with a franchise, the league remained tight-lipped on details of where the team will play or who the owners will be.
Last month, the revamped AFL announced the 16 cities and states hosting franchises on social media. TMZ and Sports Illustrated quickly reported the specific cities set to get teams, including Everett.
In Everett, the clock is ticking with games set to start in April, while the team needs to find somewhere to play with no ownership group publicly announced, let alone the team’s players.
Shortly after the announcement, Corey Margolis, general manager for Angel of the Winds Arena, said “the information that you’ve seen is what we know as well.”
Angel of the Winds is the only realistic option in the city to host an indoor football team with room for spectators.
Leadership for the arena, which is owned by the Everett Public Facilities District and managed by the Oak View Group, have since met with a “possible ownership group but no agreement is in place at this time,” Margolis said in an email Monday.
He noted “we remain open to discussions about bringing an AFL team to the Everett community.”
Michael Swanson, the president of the public facilities district, said Monday he hadn’t heard anything about the franchise playing at Angel of the Winds. But he noted he would only get an update if there was a “proposal to entertain” from arena management, like Margolis.
Lee Hutton, the league’s new commissioner and a former football player at the University of Minnesota, said there would be a team in Washington, but didn’t confirm Everett would be the site.
“We want to be working with arenas in Everett,” he said. “We want to work with the local community. We have several options in Everett and outside Everett,” but the league doesn’t “want to be held hostage by high prices.”
Hutton said there was a planned ownership group, but wouldn’t confirm who the owners would be. Margolis noted Tuesday “it appears there is interest from different groups but ultimately the league will need to award a franchise to someone.”
“We are going to make announcements on our time,” Hutton said.
The AFL announcement apparently caught many other cities by surprise.
Officials in Salem, Oregon, didn’t know about an AFL team coming to the city, the Statesman Journal reported.
Leaders in Bakersfield, California, similarly hadn’t heard about an AFL team coming to town until news reports surfaced, according to KGET.
And in Lake Charles, Louisiana, city officials had minimal conversations with the league before last month’s announcement. One official told a local TV station “it’s closer to not being true than being true at this time.”
Hutton said local media outlets who’ve reported on the planning as flimsy would have “egg on their face come April 2024.”
The AFL has had a tortured history. In 2009, amid reports it owed about $14 million to creditors, the league folded after 22 seasons. And a decade later, after the league had relaunched, it had to file for bankruptcy and again cease operations.
On its website, the AFL says it has a “strong and supported plan to be here for another 30+ years.”
“We plan on doing things much different than other leagues in the past,” Hutton said.
Other cities reportedly receiving a new franchise were Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Bakersfield; Chicago; Cincinnati; Denver; Lake Charles; Nashville, Tennessee; Odessa, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia; Salem; St. Paul, Minnesota; San Antonio; and Tallahassee, Florida.
Everett has twice hosted an indoor football franchise. After just a few years in the AFL’s development league, the Everett Hawks folded in 2007. The Everett Destroyers were proposed for the inaugural season of the Indoor Football League in 2009, but the team never played. And the Everett Raptors played just one season in 2012.
From 2010 through 2013, the downtown arena, then known as Comcast Arena, played host to the Washington Stealth in the National Lacrosse League. The team won the league championship in 2010, but moved to British Columbia in 2013.
Meanwhile in the hockey world, the Everett Silvertips last week extended their lease with the arena five more years, as the franchise enters its 21st season.