Rome has been targeted by the founder of a new arena football league to host one of what is expected to be up to twelve franchises in the Spring of 2021.
Founder Mike Zak said he’s looking to put a team in Dalton, one on Birmingham, perhaps two in Chattanooga and is still negotiating with other southeastern communities, including Montgomery, Nashville and Knoxville.
The AF3, as it will be called, will be known as a developmental league. It will target players who perhaps did not advance beyond high school play, or athletes who may have gone on to college but whose careers ended after their college days were over.
“I would call them hometown heroes who are maybe looking for an opportunity to advance to the next level,” Zak said.
Zak said that the league itself will own 55% of each franchise and is looking both for local investors who might like a share of the franchise, as well as local sponsors. Zak said that a one percent share of ownership would cost approximately $3,500.
Forum River Center General manager Brent Poplin said that he does not have a contract with Zak or the AF3 yet.
“No money has changed hands yet,” Poplin said. “We are working through all of the logistics to make this thing happen.”
Zak anticipates the league will hold a combine for prospective players once the full slate of franchises is locked down with league play expected to begin in late April of 2021.
The league does have a website, www.af3.org, that Romans can visit and vote on a name for the team. He has narrowed it down to three, including the name for the original Rome indoor team, the Renegades. The other names under consideration are Rage and Raptors.
The former Rome Renegades had a successful two year run in the mid 2000s but pulled the plug on the franchise before a third year could get started. The league that team played in had franchises all over the country and travel costs were exorbitant and made turning a profit extremely difficult.
Zak said the longest trip in the AF3 would be a couple of hours by bus.