The Billings Outpost

Indoor football returns

By DAVID CRISP - The Billings Outpost

Indoor football is on its way back to Billings, and General Manager Marc Burr says the emphasis will be on the game’s youngest fans.

“We have to be a positive impact on every child that comes across us,” he said in a short speech on Monday announcing formation of the Billings Wolves, an Indoor Football League team that hopes to take the field at MetraPark in 2015.

The franchise must still be approved by league owners, but Mike McCoy, who was in town for Monday’s announcement, indicated that he saw no problems in winning approval.

Mr. McCoy, director of business development for the nine-team league, said he will give a report with his recommendation about a Billings team to the league this week.

“They haven’t told me ‘no’ yet,” he said. He called Billings a perfect match for the league in terms of size, location, community support, and playing and practice facilities.

“Billings is a great town,” Mr. McCoy said. “It’s a perfect fit for us.” He said he also is looking at expansion in other cities, but he declined to name any.

The Billings Wolves would replace the Billings Outlaws, who folded in 2010 despite winning two league championships and drawing in the neighborhood of 4,000 fans a game, according to MetraPark General Manager Bill Dutcher.

The team ceased operations following a tornado that heavily damaged MetraPark after the 2010 regular season and after several players were involved in a drug ring.

Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund also was at Monday’s meeting, and he said the county was looking forward to working with the new football franchise. Mr. Burr said he also has been meeting with Billings Clinic officials over use of the SportsPlex, which was built for the Outlaws in 2007.

Mr. Burr, a part owner of the team, came to Billings in 2008 to play wide receiver for the Outlaws. He and his wife, Jamie, have two children. His father-in-law, Ron Benzel of Benzel Brothers Farms in Hardin, is an investor in the new franchise.

Mr. Burr’s emphasis on working with youth in Yellowstone County comes naturally enough. Since moving here, he said, he has worked with the Human Resources Development Council, the Boys and Girls Ranch and the Rimrock Foundation. He repeatedly emphasized plans to work with students, youth groups and Little Guy football to build strong community support for the team.

“We can be the positive role model that you look up to,” he said.

Team colors will be red, black and silver, Mr. Burr said. No logo has been designed yet, he said.

The game is played with eight-player teams on a 50-yard field, and kickoffs are made from the goal line. No punts are allowed.

Players receive $250 for each game they play in, plus room and board. They also get help finding part-time jobs during the season, Mr. McCoy said.

Nearly all of the players have played four years of college football and many have been invited to National Football League camps, Mr. McCoy said. This year, the 17-week season begins Feb. 21.

Teams are located in Bemidji, Minn.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Green Bay, Wis.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Plano, Texas; Casper, Wyo.; Kennewick, Wash.; Grand Island, Neb.; and Fort Collins, Colo.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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