During a recent photo shoot in intrust Bank Arena, Marv fisher is a little distracted. “Hopefully in two to three weeks we’ll have the turf in,” says Fisher, managing partner of a group of 10 investors who own the community’s newly minted indoor football team, the Wichita force. He wanders the arena floor, visually measuring and talking timelines with head coach Paco Martinez.
landing intrust Bank Arena as the team’s home base is a key play in staking out a central piece of turf in both downtown Wichita and the city’s mindshare. “We’re going to have the best place in the city – the best place in the country – to play,” fisher says. “There’s no one in our league that’s even going to compare to what we’re doing.”
That new team smell
Fisher and Martinez say that, thanks to the high-profile venue, some new fans are learning for the first time that the city even boasts an indoor football team. in addition to being in a temperature-controlled environment, the quick pace of the sport is comparable to indoor soccer, because of the compact playing field. “On a normal night you’re going to see between 70 and 80 points on the scoreboard,” Fisher says.
Filling out the team-prep playbook for 2015 are details such as finalizing uniforms and ordering football pads, signing contracts, cultivating new sponsorships, launching websites and even forging a new league – named Champions indoor football (Cif) – from a merger between the Champions Professional indoor football league and the lone Star football league in Texas.
Originally Fisher had planned to buy the Wichita Wild when owner Wink Hartman put the team up for sale, but after that deal fell through fisher decided to “indulge his passion” and build a new team. He and his wife had been “unofficial team Mom and Dad,” to the Wild, traveling with the team and hosting players for barbeques, and he soaked up the family culture of that organization.
Scrimmaging in the community
Another detail in gaining yardage to opening night is finalizing the team roster. “I expect to have 20-21 of our players signed from last year, which is huge,” Martinez said. “We built a championship team, and we’re going to have those guys back… We’ve also got a lot of phone calls from new guys that want to play.”
Key players already in place include quarterback and MVP rocky Hinds, “defensive stud” Matt Moss and running back Tywon Hubbard.
“We have some phenomenal men,” says fisher, and management shows its appreciation by assisting players in furthering their education and finding supplemental employment. Anyone on the roster can attend newman university at no cost: last year center Brett Cavanah graduated with his master’s degree, and two more players have advanced degrees in progress.
A number of team members are working as paras in the USD 259 school district, and one of them said to Fisher, “if you’d told me I’d be playing football in Wichita, Kansas, and changing diapers for teenagers, I’d have said you’re crazy. But that’s what i’m doing. And i love it.”
“The teachers that they work with just love them, and the kids go nuts,” says fisher, and that kind of player accessibility is another perk of indoor football, one which the team will reinforce with autograph signings and photo ops on the turf following games.
Martinez is already planning the game promotions, which he can’t talk about yet, but “i know some of them and they’re going to be exciting,” he says. “i’m excited to get the season started, and then to have a home game to open with – a rivalry game – it gives me goose bumps right now.”
The first Wichita Force game kicks off on February 28 at Intrust Bank Arena against the Salina Bombers. See wichitaforce.com for complete schedule and ticketing information.