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Indoor football: Duke City still hopes to play exhibition games

Even though Indoor Football League commissioner Todd Tryon announced Monday the 2020 spring/summer season for the 13 franchises has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t mean the Duke City Gladiators will be handing in their gear any time soon.

Maybe not for a long while.

The Gladiators, whose season was abruptly halted hours before their opener in Frisco, Texas, on March 12, are still hoping to play host to exhibition games against other indoor teams, tentatively in June and July.

Or as late as November or December, depending when government officials give the OK to play in state-owned Tingley Coliseum.

Duke City officials have been working the phones to line up exhibition foes.

“We have been in touch with the teams in the CIF (Champions Indoor Football) – Amarillo, Salina (Kansas) – and some in the IFL, including Spokane (Washington) and the (Tucson) Sugar Skulls, as well as all the teams in West Texas,” owner Gina Prieskorn-Thomas said in a phone interview Wednesday.

“Amarillo already has agreed to (home-and-home) games.”

The CIF is in a wait-and-see mode and hasn’t canceled its season. But Prieskorn-Thomas said the games would be played vs. Amarillo regardless, with Duke City a nonconference game on the Venom’s CIF schedule.

“What makes it hard for teams now is getting dates at their venues,” she said.

Prieskorn-Thomas said the Gladiators will contact all ticket holders to discuss the unprecedented situation facing the team, with the option of fans receiving a refund. The league has said it will expand the schedule from 14 to 16 games in 2021, thereby helping to give sponsors more bang for their bucks.

She also said her entire roster of 25 players is on board for playing exhibitions, including Manzano alum Jayson Serda.

“… I’m still gonna continue to train and stay in shape in case another opportunity or exhibition games come to play!” Serda wrote in an email to the Journal. “(But) I am very disappointed on the cancellation of our season.”

The players who remained in town during the shutdown have had the option of working in the team’s marketing department and doing volunteer work in the metro area.

Unlike the NHL and NBA, which likely would play in empty arenas should they resume play, that wasn’t an option for the IFL.

“Approximately 50% of our teams’ revenue comes from ticket sales,” commissioner Tryon said. “This would not be in our best interest.”


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