IFL Spotlight: Frisco Fighters

By: Oliver Nissi
Pirates Insider
September 19, 2020

Following the 2019 IFL season, the league struck gold with a new expansion team in Texas. The Frisco Fighters, founded last December, became the league’s first franchise in the Lone Star State since 2014. The Fighters were excited to begin play this past March, but the IFL’s 2020 season was cancelled before the team could take the field. Frisco is now looking forward to breaking bread in 2021 and they will join an array of new expansion teams beginning play next season.

Clint Dolezel will lead the Fighters into their inaugural season as head coach. An indoor football legend, Dolezel last coached the Philadelphia Soul in 2019 of the former Arena Football League. In his AFL coaching career, he won three Coach of the Year awards and two league championships. He also won a championship while coaching the Beijing Lions of the China Arena Football League in 2016.

As a player, Dolezel was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame in 2012. He enjoyed a 13-year career and finished with the second-most passing touchdowns and third-most passing yards in AFL history. A Texas native, Dolezel recently spoke about returning to coach in his home state. “I couldn’t be more excited and happy to be back in the great state of Texas to coach the Frisco Fighters!”

As the Fighters look to establish new roots, their biggest strength may be their sports market. Other professional sports teams in Frisco’s neighborhood include the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Dallas Stars (NHL), FC Dallas (MLS) and Dallas Rattlers (MLL). The Texas Legends and Frisco Roughriders, two minor league teams stemming from the NBA and MLB, also call Frisco their home. Golf is coming to the area as well, as PGA of America is currently in the process of moving its headquarters from Florida to Frisco. Establishing a strong fan base should be a breeze, especially with Texas’ most popular sport being football.

One thing the Fighters want to put importance on from the onset is their appreciation for the military. When deciding on a team name, Fighters President and General Manager Stephen Evans didn’t want to be like everybody else. “We were trying not to be similar to the other professional sports teams around here. The Cowboys, Stars, and Legends all have that Texas lore. There’s a huge military industry in North Texas and a lot of fighter jets are built here. We based our logo on an F-35 Fighter Jet. We will be honoring the military at every home game.”

The Fighters are set to play their home games at the Comerica Center. The arena is also home to the NBA G-League’s Texas Legends and is the practice facility of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

The Fighters seem to have found a niche as armed forces ambassadors, but not all new businesses are a sure thing. A major hurdle the organization is facing is stability. Since 2007, Frisco has brought in three other indoor football franchises. The Frisco Thunder played in the Intense Football League in 2007 and 2008 but then ceased operations ahead of the 2009 season. The Frisco Falcons were set to play in the Lone Star Football League in 2012, but never played a snap. In 2018, Frisco became the new home of the Texas Revolution of Champions Indoor Football. The Revolution were coming off a league championship in 2017, but in May 2019, the team folded just three games into the season.

Evans is confident things will be different this time around. “Our ownership, front office and coaching staff may be the most experienced staff as far as years of service in our sport. We’re talking experience all the way back to the beginning of arena football in the 1980’s. That’s why we believe we’ll have success with indoor football in the Frisco market.”

Pirates Founder, President and General Manager Jawad Yatim thinks highly of the Fighters, both on and off the field. “Another real strong ownership group and organization, legendary head coach, they’re very active from a marketing and operational standpoint. Being proactive when it comes to the business side of this sport isn’t always the case in every league and Frisco has taken it upon themselves to ensure an aggressive approach towards marketing and league sales along with ourselves here in Massachusetts and the rest of our great partners. They’re in a recruiting hotbed down there in Texas, and when you combine that with the type of coaching staff they have they’re going to be a dangerous team moving forward. It’ll be great to have the opportunity to compete with them off the field and against them on the field.”

Aside from being a prominent sports town, Frisco excels in other facets of life as well. In 2018, Money Magazine ranked the city as the number-one place to live in the country. A year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Frisco as the fastest growing city in America. The city is known for having exemplary schools and outstanding family entertainment. Residents are known to be interested in art and technology as well.

The Fighters will look to make their mark on the IFL next March. They will join four other franchises entering the league, including the Massachusetts Pirates. The addition of an IFL franchise in Frisco will bring more notoriety to the league in North Texas, a setting where sports are more relevant than almost anywhere.

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard