PORTLAND, Maine — Next spring, the Maine Mammoths will be charging up an indoor football field in the state’s largest city.
The National Arena League announced Tuesday that it has signed a three-year contract, with the possibility of a two-year extension, for the team to play at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena.
The Mammoths are scheduled to kick off their first game sometime in April and will be one of seven teams confirmed to be playing in the league’s second season.
Arena football is played on 50-yard, indoor fields surrounded by boards, rather than on conventional 100-yard gridirons. Opposing teams field eight players each on offense and defense.
The result is “more players for square yard,” leaving the person with the ball “nowhere to hide,” NAL Commissioner Chris Siegfried said Tuesday during a press conference in the Cross Insurance Arena.
The Mammoths are one of two new teams set to arrive in Portland next year. They’ll be joined by the Maine Mariners, a minor league hockey team that will drop the puck on its inaugural 2018-2019 season next fall, filling a gap left by the Portland Pirates’ sudden departure in 2016.
The Mammoths are expected to be a boon to the local economy and give the Cross Insurance Arena a boost during its previously quiet summer months, arena general manager Matt Herpich previously told the Bangor Daily News.
The Portland team was named for a wooly mammoth skeleton that was reportedly discovered in Scarborough in 1959.
The Mammoths are owned by National Sports Ventures, which is incorporated in Georgia. The team already has a head coach, James Fuller, and a quarterback, Jonathan Bane, a 26-year-old Texan who’s played in several other indoor football leagues over the last four years.
The team has been scouting other players but hadn’t been able to make any deals official before the Tuesday announcement, Bane told the BDN.
“I’m already getting good vibes from [Portland],” Bane said during the press conference. “We’re going to try to bring a trophy … up here to Maine.”
Eight teams played in the NAL’s premier 2016 season, but only three of those are set to come back for another year. Returning teams from Jacksonville, Fla.; Bethlehem, Pa.; and Columbus, Ga., will compete against the Mammoths, as well as other new franchises in Trenton, N.J., Greensboro, N.C., and Worcester, Mass.
It is unclear whether the team in Monterrey, Mexico will be able to recover from earthquake damage there in time to play in the upcoming season, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The league’s season is set to run from April to July with playoffs in August. The Mammoths will play seven or eight regular-season home games and, although the season schedule is not yet finalized, are expected to have their first game around April 14.
A pair of season tickets will sell for $99, according to team President Will Riley.
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