Wichita Force

Indoor football to return with same players, coach – but with new name, owner, league

Wichita’s new indoor football team has many connections to the Wichita Wild, none of them official.

Wichita Indoor Football general partner Marv Fisher announced on Thursday that he is heading up a team that will be the first expansion franchise in a league forming out of a merger of the Champions Indoor Professional Football League and the Lone Star Football League.

“This is a brand-new franchise,” Fisher said. “This has been a dream that came about in the last couple months and I never thought it would happen.”

Fisher will hire Wild coach Paco Martinez and media-relations director Ashley Lawless as general manager. He isn’t sure where the team will play or its color scheme. He spoke of a name-the-team contest.

“I don’t know the answers to any of those right now,” Fisher said. “This franchise is less than 72 hours old. Give me some time.”

Wild owner Wink Hartman put his team up for sale in July, complaining of losses of $2 million over eight years. Fisher discussed purchasing the franchise.

Fisher thanked Hartman and others for keeping indoor football alive in Wichita and giving him a chance to get involved. Fisher, a financial adviser, grew fond of the Wild and its players the past two seasons, even traveling to road games as an unofficial counselor and life coach.

“We were in negotiations and we were not able to meet a mutually beneficial contract for both us,” Fisher said. “I’m very thankful and grateful to Wink Hartman. He took over the franchise and built it a very solid foundation. Now I have the privilege of building on that foundation.”

Fisher said he represented a group of investors, numbering five now with plans to add five more, who own the team.

The Wild played at Park City’s Hartman Arena, owned by Hartman. Fisher didn’t rule out returning there and called finding a home a high priority.

“There’s a lot of possibilities,” he said. “Once you start down that road and you start looking for what can be done … and what’s open, it’s amazing the phone calls you get.”

The Wild won the past two CPIFL titles and Fisher wants those players back.

“I have been in contact with just about every player on last year’s squad,” he said. “We are family and the family wants to come back together.”

Fisher’s team will chase a different title this season. Meetings for the merged leagues begin on Friday in Wichita with representatives from the LSFL, which had six franchises last season, and CPIFL, which had eight teams. A name is the first order of business. Dodge City Law owner Ricky Bertz said he expects expansion teams to bring the number of franchises to 14 or 15.

“Why not take the two most stable leagues and make one premier league?” said LSFL commissioner Darlene Jones. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Teams will be located in Amarillo, Odessa and San Angelo in Texas, as well as Rio Rancho (N.M.), Tulsa, Dodge City, Salina, Omaha, Lincoln (Neb.), Sioux City (Iowa) and Bloomington (Ill.).

“Rivalries will exist within the league,” Bertz said. “The league has recognized the importance of having a league in (Wichita) not only for the stability of the league, but for the stability of several teams.”

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.