Mammoths to bring arena football to Portland

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PORTLAND — The Mammoths are coming.

The newest entry in the National Arena League will begin playing indoor football at the Cross Insurance Arena in April 2018, promising fan-friendly excitement that can’t be replicated outdoors.

“Your kids will have you dragging them back and forth to the games because it is so much fun,” head coach James Fuller said Tuesday at an arena press conference where team and league leaders were introduced and the team’s name was revealed.

Among the introductions was quarterback Jonathan Bane, the first player signed by the team and a veteran of short-field football.

“You are going to see a lot of touchdowns; everybody loves touchdowns,” Bane said. “We are a start-up team, but that ain’t no excuse, we want to win.”

NAL Commissioner Chris Siegfried said scheduling details are still being worked out, but the team is expected to open its 2018 season in April and play at least 15 games.

Tickets will be priced to compete with other family entertainment.

“You can probably come to a game with a family of four for less than a movie,” Siegfriend said.

Mammoths President Will Riley said a pair of season tickets will cost $99.

Arena football leagues have played for more than 30 years on fields generally half the size of standard, 100-yard football fields. Even with narrower goal posts to make field goals more difficult, games are high-scoring and may last 2 1/2 to three hours; winning teams routinely score 50 points or more.

Siegfried said the NAL, which is entereing its second season, was created from teams playing in other indoor leagues, and is now forging ahead with stronger ownership groups.

The Mammoths will be one of at least seven league teams. Holdovers from the first season are the Jacksonville, Florida, Sharks; Columbus, Georgia, Lions, and Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Joining the league with the Mammoths are the Carolina Cobras of Greensboro, North Carolina; Jersey Flight of Trenton, New Jersey, and the Massachusetts Pirates, based in Worcester.

Siegfried, who has played and coached in arena leagues, said the formation of the NAL brought him back to the game fans will love.

“It is an experience like none other. Think of it as more players per square yard; there is nowhere to run and hide,” he said. “You can keep the football if it comes into the stands, but if a football player comes into the stands, we ask that you kindly give him back.”

Fuller has coached, but not played any arena league football, but has NFL experience as a defensive back, including appearing in 13 games in 1996 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Mammoths, so named because of a mammoth tusk discovered in Scarborough in 1959, are owned by Georgia-based National Sports Ventures, a group that includes NAL Expansion Chairman Jeff Bouchy.

Bouchy has also been operating manager of the Sharks, and credited Riley for recommending Portland as a team city.

Riley, a native of Hampton, New Hampshire, said the the city and its residents made Portland an easy choice because of the bonds he expects will be formed with the team.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Maine Mammoths quarterback Jonathan Bane on Tuesday promised fun and excitement when the team begins National Arena League play next April in the Cross Insurance Arena: “You are going to see a lot of touchdowns; everybody loves touchdowns.”

The team name was chosen after Mammoths President Will Riley learned a mammoth tusk was discovered in Scarborough in 1959.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.