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The three new owners of the Bemidji Axemen (left to right) Phil Sallberg, Nate Coffin and Dan Skaug, are excited to be part of the team. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Indoor Football League: New owners excited about Axemen's future

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BEMIDJI -- Dan Skaug and Nate Coffin of DPS Exteriors in Bemidji followed the inaugural season of the Bemidji Axemen from their perch in a suite at the Sanford Center. Phil Sallberg, a dentist from Roseau, has a lake place near Mahnomen and when the Axemen were playing at home Sallberg would make the trip east.

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On Friday at the Bemidji Waterfront under the watchful eyes of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, the three Axemen fans were officially announced as part owners of their favorite Indoor Football League franchise. A short time later Dixie Wooten also made his initial appearance as the Axemen’s new head coach.

The new owners join Axemen president Ross Ladehoff as financial backers of the franchise and the they could not contain the excitement that comes with their expanded roles.

“Indoor football is such an intimate and fascinating game and I was hooked,” Sallberg, who attended Central School in Bemidji during his youth, said. “Central burned down the year I graduated from the school. I have many fun memories about Bemidji.”

Last year the Axemen added to that total and the three new owners hope the team can continue to create memories for the community.

“The Axemen bring people into town on a weekend. The team brings people to the restaurants, the stores and the hotels,” Coffin said. “And, on another level, it’s having my son Ethan (in a store) and meeting an Axemen and having that player go down to Ethan’s eye level and shake his hand and talk to him. To have players become involved in the community like that and become role models is exciting.

“It’s all about community and the Axemen are part of our community. They are too big a part of the community to let them go away and I think our heart is going to show,” Coffin added.

DPS Exteriors was among the Axemen’s sponsors last season and the business’ owners were eager to expand their involvement.

“Nate and I were sponsors last year and when we had a chance to become owners we jumped on it,” Skaug said. “An opportunity like this doesn’t come around every day.

“I think we can and will do a much better job of promotion and of meeting and greeting people,” Skaug continued. “We need to put a winning product on the field and we are very confident in Dixie and his abilities.”

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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