Portland strikes while the gridiron is hot to claim arena football team

NOW: Arena football comes to Portland

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The crash of football helmets will join the slapping of pucks resounding from the halls of the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

The National Arena League (NAL) announced on Wednesday that Portland will be home to a new expansion team. The name and logo have yet to be decided.

Expansion plans will also bring new teams to Worcester, Massachusetts and Greensboro, North Carolina, nearly doubling the league membership which includes teams in Jacksonville, Florida; Columbus, Georgia; Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and Trenton, New Jersey.

"It's an intimate game, the fans sit on the dashers, they get balls thrown to them, guys falling in their laps, fast-paced, and it's essentially half a field," said Matt Herpich of the Cross Insurance Arena.

The NAL is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Its first season was held in 2017.

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As the home field for the Portland team, Cross Insurance Arena management had additional details about their new tenant. They said a contract has not yet been signed, but those arrangements are expected to be finalized in the next week to ten days. A definite start date for the team also remains uncertain with 2018 and 2019 as possibilities.

The arena's fortunes as a sports venue have taken several turns in recent years. The AHL relocated the Portland Pirates hockey team to Springfield, Mass. at the end of 2016 after decades of residency. A new Maine Mariners hockey team affiliated with the EHCL stepped in to fill the void, and it will begin playing at the arena in October 2018. Since the NAL season runs during the spring and summer, the football and hockey seasons will not conflict with each other.

RELATED STORY: Maine Mariners making a return to Portland

Arena officials said the football team will be owned and operated directly by the NAL with the hopes of finding a buyer once becoming established in the community.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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