Pittsburgh Power unveiled as arena football expansion team
Pittsburgh's new football team has a nickname (Power), familiar color scheme (black and gold), Hall-of-Fame Steeler as co-owner (Lynn Swann) and brand new arena to call home (Consol Energy Center).
Next on the agenda for principal owner/general manager Matt Shaner is to hire a coach — and a leading candidate has emerged.
Beechview's Rich Ingold, quarterback of two WPIAL champion teams while at Seton-LaSalle High School, is a finalist for the head coach position. He and Shaner had lunch Thursday to discuss the job.
Shaner did not identify coaching candidates Friday, but he did concede "it would be nice to have a local person" for the role, adding that "one person is."
Ingold is a childhood friend of Penguins president David Morehouse. He was fired in May by the AFL's Dallas Vigilantes after a 1-5 start with that expansion team. However, he was twice named coach of the year in ArenaFootball2, posting a 92-38 overall record in the now-defunct developmental league.
In Shaner, he would be employed by an owner who pledges "to spend to be successful."
"We'd like to make money, but I'm going to be a very active owner, and I want to win," said Shaner, CEO of Shaner Investments L.P., a company that owns the Marriott City Center.
The AFL's collective bargaining agreement does not allow for Shaner to pinpoint the league's salary cap. He promised the Power "will spend to it."
Expectations are high enough to scrape the new arena's roof. AFL expansion committee chair Brett Bouchy predicted the Power will "lead the league in attendance next season." He said the average ticket price will be $30.
The Tampa Bay Storm averaged 16,000 fans for games this season. The AFL played before average crowds of 9,000 this past season, the first after a suspended 2009 campaign because of financial troubles. Bouchy forecasted a return next season to 2008's average crowds of 13,000.
All parties declined comment on the Power's cost to Shaner and Swann, the latter who will be a face of the franchise and consult on football operations.
Bouchy said the AFL targeted Pittsburgh as a "must have" for a four-city expansion that will bring teams to Kansas City, Philadelphia and San Jose for the 2011 season, which will run from April through August.
A confluence of the new arena, local ownership and a guaranteed three-year lease with the Penguins to play at Consol Energy Center played pivotal roles in bringing the AFL back to Pittsburgh for the first time since the Gladiators' four-season run ended in 1990.
Bouchy dismissed comparisons of the Power to the Gladiators, who relocated to Tampa Bay in 1991.
"I was graduating high school in 1987; now I own an arena team," Bouchy said of his Orlando Predators. "My point is things have changed a lot in (23) years. ... I've never seen a team start up with the dynamics the Power (has) going for (it)."
Added Swann: "Why will it work this time• Well, No. 1 is because it's a great product. It's affordable. And its football, so we know Pittsburgh will support that."Additional Information:
Key information about the AFL's newest team, the Pittsburgh Power:
» Signed a three-year lease with the Penguins to play at the new arena. A three-year option exists to extend that lease after the 2013 season.
» Three local tryouts will be held before the first game in April. The first tryout will be in either late September or early October at a to-be-determined local high school.
» Local residents interested in working for the Power are encouraged to log on to the team's website for employment opportunities.
» Power ownership, not the Penguins, will buy the artificial surface on which the team will play.
SOURCES: Pittsburgh Power, SMG