PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s largest city will be getting a professional football team, though it’s not a National Football League franchise.
Portland will be among several cities to host new arena football teams, according to the National Arena League.
The league is in negotiations to have a team play at the Cross Insurance Arena. No deal has yet been signed, but arena general manager Matt Herpich said he thinks indoor football will be a good match for Portland.
“I think it’s going to be a positive to the county, the city and the building,” said Herpich.
If a deal is finalized, the football team will be the second minor league franchise to recently move into the arena. In June, a minor league hockey team, now called the Mariners, announced that it would be coming to Portland for the 2018-19 season, filling a gap left by the Portland Pirates’ sudden departure in 2016.
The indoor football season, which runs from April to August, would boost income from the Cumberland County-owned arena during its “down months” in the summer, Herpich said.
Arena football is played on 50-yard fields in spaces designed for basketball or hockey, rather than on conventional 100-yard gridirons. Opposing teams field eight players each on offense and defense.
Details of the expansion in Portland will be unveiled during a news conference later this month, according to a statement on the league’s website. League representatives did not immediately respond to queries Wednesday.
One of several indoor football leagues, the National Arena League was formed in 2016 and played its first season this year.
Five of the eight teams that played in 2017 appear to have folded or left the league. It now has teams in Jacksonville, Fla.; Bethlehem, Pa.; and Columbus, Ga., according to the statement.
These will be joined for the second season by a previously announced expansion team in Trenton, N.J., as well as new ones in Portland; Greensboro, N.C.; and Worcester, Mass.
Details about the Worcester team would be released in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, according to the statement.
The league has yet not released a schedule for its second season.
Tickets for arena football games would likely be priced around the same level as tickets for Red Claws basketball and Mariners hockey games,
Follow Jake Bleiberg at @JZBleiberg.
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