Let’s face it, most of us love football. Whether it is cheering for the local high school team and seeing your pride and joy hit the field on Thursday or Friday nights in the fall, rooting for your alma mater on Saturday or backing your favorite National Football League (NFL) team on Sunday or Monday, the pigskin is a huge part of American culture.
The ultimate barometer of football’s enduring popularity is the Super Bowl, that one event that everyone, no matter if they love the sport or not, stops whatever they are doing to check out. However, once the Super Bowl is played in early February, that signals the end of competitive football until late August, when the college season starts.
Tommy Benizio, CEO of the Texas Revolution, the indoor football team which relocated to Frisco in September, wants to fill that void for local football fans. “Come February, football season is not over,” Mr. Benizio says. “We are trying to fill a gap where there is no other football being played for the five months of spring and summer.”
The Texas Revolution plays in Champions Indoor Football, a 10-team league also featuring the Dallas Marshals. The Texas Revolution spent the past five seasons in Allen, finishing their run at the Allen Event Center by winning the league title in Champions Bowl III, 59-49 over Omaha on June 23, 2017.
Starting February 25, the Texas Revolution will play its home games at Dr Pepper Arena. The Texas Revolution is the second indoor team in Frisco, joining the Frisco Thunder, who were owned by former NFL receiver and current Frisco resident Jake Reed and his wife Vinita, and played two seasons (2007-2008) in the Intense Football League.
The Texas Revolution enjoyed great support in Allen, but the opportunity to move to Frisco was too intriguing to pass up. “Frisco is quickly becoming Football USA with the Dallas Cowboys being here and The Star. To be able to move to Frisco is a pretty big deal,” Texas Revolution general manager Tim Brown says. “We had a good time in Allen and had pretty good support, but we just really feel that being in the Mecca of football, we are going to get greater support on and off the field. We are certainly looking forward to it.”
One reason the Texas Revolution is excited about the shift to Frisco is because it allows them to tap into an emerging market of football and family entertainment. “It is probably like anywhere else in America in that people here love to be together with their families,” Mr. Benizio says. “There are a lot of young kids and that fits so well into what we are trying to create. The population is not only very large, but is growing at such a rapid pace. That means there is more potential for people to fall in love with our game who live near where we are going to play now, and it is growing.”
Definite Star Power
Mr. Brown’s name is familiar to local sports fans. Before he was catching passes at the University of Notre Dame, where he won the 1987 Heisman Trophy, and in the NFL, he was a star at Dallas’ Woodrow Wilson High School. Mr. Brown spent 16 seasons in the NFL (1988-2004), playing all but one year for the Oakland Raiders.
In 2015, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He now works as the Texas Revolution’s general manager, with finding players being his major responsibility and he is also part of the ownership group. When the move to Frisco was announced in September, Mr. Brown recalled how he had mowed grass in Frisco during summers in high school and just how much the area had changed since then. “I do not really remember exactly where we mowed because there were not many streets up here at that point. It is pretty interesting to see what has happened after all these years.”
Mr. Benizio considers himself and the organization honored to have a Hall of Famer like Mr. Brown, regarded as one of the best receivers in NFL history, representing the Texas Revolution. “When we launched the team in 2012, we wanted to have a good group of local owners,” Mr. Benizio shares. “We were blessed with Tim being one of the first friends we made here and his willingness to not only invest, but to want to participate further and help, so we hired him as the GM. That was obviously a great day for the organization. He has been a tremendous blessing for us in terms of recruiting players, helping push players to the next level and, additionally, he adds a lot of sizzle to the Texas Revolution, which we are really grateful for.”
A Different Game Experience
One of the selling points for indoor football, which dates to the inaugural season of the Arena Football League in 1987, is the fast pace of the game, which is being played on a shorter field. That faster pace ensures there are plenty of points as high-scoring games are the norm.
Maybe the biggest positive associated with the indoor game is the high level of interaction between fans and players. Fans can meet players at various appearances and autograph sessions, usually held after home games, access which happens rarely in the NFL, except during preseason training camp.
“The game itself is remarkable. You have near-NFL caliber players playing on this very small field with incredible interaction with the fans, including the players jumping into the stands to catch passes and to celebrate with fans after touchdowns,” Mr. Benizio says. “And, if you catch a football, you get to keep it. We will go through as many as 50 in a game.”
Mr. Brown admits that while playing outdoor football, he had an opinion about the indoor game that many of his colleagues in both college and the NFL shared. However, now that he works in indoor football, his views have changed. “I always thought it was a little crazy, to be honest — playing football in a basketball arena. But once you see these guys do what they do, I really think they are spectacular athletes,” Mr. Brown says. “These are guys who can stop on a dime and do everything they need to do. I am surprised more kick returners have not gotten an opportunity from this league (in the NFL) because they must make such quick decisions. And these guys, that is why they are there. They believe they can get another shot, get another look and they are going to keep going until someone tells them otherwise.”
The Texas Revolution has brought indoor football back to Frisco for the first time since 2008. Between late February and early June 2018, the Revs will host seven home games at Dr Pepper Arena, providing seven opportunities to see talented athletes play a fast-paced, high-scoring game indoors. But the cherry on top might be the high level of player-fan interaction indoor football features. Where else can you catch a football in the stands and get to keep it? Nowhere!