The new owners of the New Mexico Stars on Saturday opted to put the indoor pro football team on ice for the 2015 season and start immediately to reorganize for the 2016 season.
Tracy Duran and wife Crystal, who said they completed the paperwork to officially take over full ownership of the fourth-year franchise in January, said various mitigating circumstances prompted them to come to their decision.
Among the devastating blows the team received occurred last Monday when head coach Dominic Bramante resigned for unspecified reasons on the eve of preseason training camp — and only two weeks before the team’s scheduled Champions Indoor Football season opener March 2.
“We reached out to a couple of different people to help run the team and couldn’t make it happen,” Tracy Duran said.
He said league Commissioner Darlene Jones and all the team owners are fully aware of his decision. Jones did not respond to phone calls for comment from the Journal on Saturday.
Duran said the tight time frame before the season made it extremely difficult to reload in time.
“We had so many people around the country, even local players, dying to come in,” he said. “But it seemed every time you jump a hurdle another one is in front of you.”
Duran said he and his wife are going to get to work quickly in an attempt to rebuild the reputation of the team, which took a jolt when Bramante departed.
“After the coach left, a lot of sponsors and people lost faith in the season,” Duran said.
He said that although the team plans to return to the Santa Ana Center for 2016, he was uncertain whether the franchise would attempt to rejoin the Champions Indoor Football league.
“We may be moving to a different league, which is something I have to see down the road,” he said.
There are seven indoor pro leagues listed online.
“We are going to rebuild, reorganize and restructure to become a better part of the community — better than we have in the past,” Duran said. “And we need to rebrand it. We’ll be building from the ground up.
“It’s going to be nonstop. We plan on starting as I hang up the phone. I’ll be interviewing coaches in the next month. We want to have someone who’s in touch with the city and will be an ambassador for the team.
“Ultimately, we don’t make it without the community, because they support the team. This is really a 12-month business and we’re going to start hammering away.”
TICKET REFUNDS: Duran said fans who purchased tickets to Stars games may get a refund at the Star Center Box Office. He said business hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.