Mike Thomas (6) owner of the Everett Royals, shares a laugh after practice at Archbishop Murphy High School on February 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Mike Thomas (6) owner of the Everett Royals, shares a laugh after practice at Archbishop Murphy High School on February 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Everett’s new arena football team announces owners, coach

The franchise had been shrouded in mystery since the league announced it was relaunching in April.

EVERETT — Leaders of Everett’s new Arena Football League team emerged Tuesday, answering key questions about where the team will play, who will own the franchise and who will coach.

But fans will have to wait hear more details about who they’ll be rooting for. The team name and logo are scheduled to be announced in mid-October.

Mike Thomas, the founder and coach of the semi-professional Everett Royals, will lead the team’s ownership group. The ownership group, Everett Arena Football Club LLC, registered with the state last week.

Miguel Morga, the Royals general manager, is also on the ownership group, said Thomas, who noted there is another owner, but declined to provide their name.

JR Wells who played wide receiver for a previous arena football team in Everett, will coach. For the past year, he served as offensive coordinator for the Royals. He is also a local real estate agent.

“I’m ready to rock and roll,” Wells said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I’m ready to turn this community out.”

And the team has an agreement in place to play at the Angel of the Winds Arena downtown. On Tuesday, the Everett Public Facilities District, which owns the arena, approved the deal.

“We’re excited about the prospect of bringing arena football back to Everett,” said Corey Margolis, the arena’s general manager.

Michael Swanson, the president of the public facilities district, said in an email: “It’s going to be a great opportunity for football fans in the region and has the added benefit of not conflicting with the Silvertips season and will add to the variety of athletic offerings throughout the year.”

Major League Pizza, Tony V’s Garage and Buzz Inn Steakhouse are among the sponsors for the new franchise, Thomas noted.

The league has said the season will start in April. The AFL is hosting a combine in Dallas with players who didn’t qualify for the NFL’s pre-draft combine, Wells said. The coach also plans to host combines across the West Coast to find players for the new franchise.

Tuesday’s news comes two months after the dormant league came back to life in July with an announcement that 16 teams from across the country would compete in the league next spring.

But for weeks, updates about the Everett franchise were scarce. No potential ownership group came forward and the Everett arena’s operators said they had no clue the announcement was coming.

Meanwhile, city officials in other potential locations for franchises similarly reported they were caught off guard.

Other cities reportedly receiving a new franchise were Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Bakersfield, California; Chicago; Cincinnati; Denver; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Nashville, Tennessee; Odessa, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia; Salem, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; San Antonio, Texas; and Tallahassee, Florida.

After the announcement, Thomas reached out to the league to try to get tryouts for the Royals players. That quickly turned into him owning the franchise, he said in an interview.

Everett has twice hosted an indoor football franchise. After just a few years in the AFL’s development league, the Everett Hawks, for which Wells played wide receiver, 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.

In a press release, Thomas called Everett the “perfect sports city.”

“There are so many professional athletes that have been part of the Silvertips and AquaSox in their pursuit to the NHL and MLB,” he said. “The AFL believes Everett is also the place to add the highest level of professional indoor football in the world.”

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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