Same key 2011 opponents; different league in 2012. That was the big announcement Tuesday from the Albany Panthers owner and general manager.
The reigning Southern Indoor Football League Champion Panthers are bolting the SIFL and becoming a founding member of the Professional Indoor Football League. The SIFL’s Columbus Lions, Louisiana Swashbucklers, Richmond Raiders, Alabama Hammers joined the Panthers in joining the league, which also will include the new Knoxville KnightHawks.
“Several owners desired to take more control of their destiny and provide more input in league development,” said team owner Rod Chappell. “The PIFL is the outcome of those desires.”
The Panthers’ 12-game season kicks off with the Richmond Raiders coming to the Albany Civic Center on March 17. The schedule also includes three matchups with the SIFL runner-up, the Louisiana Swashbucklers.
“We have a lot of tough football games in 2012,” said Panther General Manager Will Carter. “Playing a difficult schedule, defending a league championship and playing three games with the Columbus Lions this year will be challenging. We will be ready for this challenge.
“Columbus and Albany fans will no doubt enjoy having those games returning to the schedule. Our meetings in recent years have been tough, classic indoor football games that are highly anticipated by fans of both franchises. I am sure that will continue to be the case when we meet in 2012.”
The PIFL is not connected with the original Professional Indoor Football League, which split into two separate leagues after one season in 1998. Its commissioner was Mike Storen, former managing partner of the Albany’s South Georgia Wildcats arena football team.
Some of the 2011 SIFL teams have joined the Texas-based Lone Star Football League, leaving three teams in the SIFL, which faces an uncertain future.
Here is the Panthers’ 2012 schedule:
Saturday, March 17 – Richmond Raiders (home); Saturday, March 24 – at Louisiana Swashbucklers; Saturday, March 31 – Louisiana Swashbucklers (home); Sunday, April 14 – at Knoxville KnightHawks; Sunday, April 21 – Columbus Lions (home); Saturday, April 28 – Alabama Hammers (home); Saturday, May 5 – at Columbus Lions; Sunday, May 12 – Louisiana Swashbucklers (home); Saturday, May 19 – at Alabama Hammers; Saturday, June 2 – Knoxville KnightHawks (home); Saturday, June 9 – at Columbus Lions; Saturday, June 16 – at Richmond Raiders.