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IFL expansion tour?: In Fargo, league officials give similar pitch to one they gave in last week Bemidji

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sports Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

FARGO -- Much like their counterparts at Bemidji's Sanford Center, officials at Scheels Arena in Fargo are willing to house indoor football with the right team ownership.

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"We'd be intrigued because it would be a different event beyond hockey," said Jon Kram, who is the Scheels Arena general manager. "The biggest question I had is 'Who is their potential owner?' That would be very key."

Scheels Arena has been home of the Fargo Force junior hockey team the past five seasons.

The Indoor Football League is looking at Fargo as a possible expansion target for the 2014 season.

Chris Kokalis, who is chairman of the IFL expansion committee, met with representatives from Scheels Arena on Tuesday about the facility being the home for a potential Fargo team.

"It's a beautiful facility," said Kokalis, who is also the co-owner of the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Titans.

Kokalis has been on an expansion tour of sorts since visiting Bemidji last week. His next stop is Bismarck., N.D.

"We are looking to add markets into our league for the 2014 season," Kokalis said. "We believe Fargo would be a great addition to our league."

And the message he gave potential Bemidji investors at a news conference last week is virtually identical to the pitch he made to the group in Fargo Tuesday: The league needs to find an owner or ownership group to come up with the funds to start a team.

"We need to have local ownership step up to the plate," Kokalis said. "This can be profitable. This can be a venture that has long-term success."

The IFL was founded in 2008 with teams in Cedar Rapids, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Green Bay, Wis.; Chicago; Allen, Texas; Kennewick, Wash.; Casper, Wyo.; Ft. Collins, Colo.; and Grand Island, Neb.

Each team plays a 14-game schedule, including seven home games. The season starts in February and ends in June. The average ticket price ranges from $10 to $15, Kokalis said.

The game is 8-on-8 and played on a 50-yard field. Each team has 25 players on its roster with 20 of them dressed for games.

Fargo has had an indoor football team before. The Fargo Freeze, which played in the Fargodome, lasted one season in 2000. That team was part of the old Indoor Football League.

"That doesn't really concern me," Kokalis said of that past team. "This is a new time. It's a new arena and things have changed."

In 2013, Kokalis said IFL teams averaged more than 3,600 fans per game. That makes Scheels Arena the ideal size for a potential expansion team.

"I think the arena plays a big factor into it," he said.

Kokalis said there have been a few "parties who have expressed interest" in starting a Fargo team, but nothing solid at this point.

For a team to be ready for the 2014 season, Kokalis said ownership needs to be in place by mid-September at the latest.

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