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Coach Has Ownership

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Williams Buys 51 Percent Stake in Indoor League Club

The New Mexico Stars will have new ownership next season when the pro indoor team based in Rio Rancho plays in the seven-team Lone Star Football League beginning in March.

Coach Chris Williams, a veteran of nine seasons as a head coach in indoor leagues, including last season with the Stars, will have a 51 percent stake in the team, LSFL Commissioner Darlene Jones said Thursday, with the league having the other 49 percent.

“Our league doesn’t have ownership in any other teams, but it’s a very common practice for that to happen in the other (indoor) leagues,” Jones said. “It is very uncommon, though, for the head coach to be an owner, but that’s how the previous (Stars) ownership wanted it. They wanted to do something nice for him.”

Jones was in the metro area this week to close the deal and to formally admit the Stars into the second-year league. Last season, New Mexico played in the Indoor Football League and had a 2-12 record.

For the coach, all this came about rather quickly.

“It’s something I’ve been tossing around the past two or three weeks,” said Williams, who said he felt it was important to have local ownership of the team. “I like the community, I’m living here, and we found a way to make it work.”

The franchise fee is $25,000, with a $25,000 letter of credit.

The previous ownership group was comprised of out-of-state investors, including co-owner/GM Jerry Dunn, who lives in Idaho.

Said Dunn by phone Wednesday: “I will still act as a consultant; I will have a role with the team. But as far as the New Mexico Stars are concerned, this is all the best thing that can ever happen.

“As for joining the Lone Star Football League, it’s healthier and has a better vision with where they’re going. They have great direction and the competition is really strong. It’s a little more regional play, which is what minor league sports is supposed to be.”

The Lone Star league has seven members, with the other six from Texas – Amarillo, Abilene, San Angelo, McAllen, Odessa and Laredo.

The Stars will have only one trip longer than 500 miles, when they visit Laredo. By contrast, last year in the IFL, 500 miles was the team’s shortest trip. The team also made a pair of journeys to Washington state that were 1,250 and 1,500 miles.

“Actually, they called us a little before June,” Jones said of the Stars’ initial interest with her league. “They were having some issues (with the IFL) and the travel costs were phenomenal for them. It was not only expensive, but there was the wear and tear on the players on these trips.

“The league is a member-owned league and it’s not owned by me or one individual; that’s why we think it’s strong and this arrangement (in New Mexico) is a good fit for everybody.”

Jones added that Lisa Ravotti, who has been a VP of sales with various duties with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints, will join the Stars as general manager.

“She’s got a lot of experience,” Williams said. “She’s always been the top sales person in the department she’s been in. For me, I haven’t dealt with season tickets and group sales, and in order for this to work we needed someone with true experience. I’d be fooling myself if I tried to pick up something like that.”

The Stars and LSFL are planning a formal news conference to address the new faces of the team in early November. Training camp is scheduled to commence March 2, with the season starting two weeks later.
— This article appeared on page D6 of the Albuquerque Journal

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