Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Injuries and Roster Move

Per Raider official website, QB Bryan Randall out for the year (ACL), K/WR Chris Segaar out for 6 weeks (groin), and hot off, Scorpio Brown just tweeted that he is no longer a Raider. He has not made public his new team, but its not the Richmond Raiders.

Attending the Trenton Steel home opener

This Saturday, March 26th 2011, my son Andrew and I will be attending the Trenton Steel home opener in Trenton, NJ.  Through a series of strange events, my family has won four free tickets in the 'gold section' of the stadium and the right for my three year old son Andrew to present the official coin toss coin to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.  They will also announce his name over the PA as the Steel's '1,000th Facebook follower.' Being a three year old boy, following directions is not one of his strengths, so it should be interesting.  And for the record, Andrew DOES NOT have his own Facebook account, it was his mother's.  I guess it would be a bad night to wear my Raider t-shirt. 

Richmond Raiders Win in Painful Fashion 59-56

The Richmond Raiders edged out the Trenton Steel 59-56 in a costly win this evening at the Richmond Colesium.

The opening kickoff had the Raiders receive, and DB Larry Williams took the first play of the season all the way to the endzone bringing the Raiders up 7 - 0.  Steel QB EJ Nemeth answered with a 45 yard touchdown pass on the ensuing posession and tied up the game.  QB Bryan Randall would spend rest of the half targeting WR Redd Thomspon repeatedly, including three touchdowns passes. At half time the Raiders trailed 27-28.

During the third quarter, the dislike the two teams had for each other became apparent.  On every special teams play Raider DB Stephen Cason and Steel RB Keon Lattimore would trade blows, drawing several unsportsmanlike penalties for the home team.  in the third quarter K/WR Chris Segaar was injured, and the Raiders were forced to try for two points on every score.  This proved to be a major problem, as they were only able to convert once on three attempts..  During the third and fourth quarter, the two teams traded touchdowns back and forth, bringing the score to a Raider lead of 53-48 with five minutes remaining in the game.

At just under three minutes remaining, the Steel were on the 10 yard line looking at 4th and 6.  As QB EJ Nemeth passed the ball, it was tipped by the Raider defense and intercepted by DL Noland Burchette.  It was the defensive stop the Raiders were looking for all game.

On the next play, with 2:26 remaining, QB Bryan Randall was sacked by the Steel defense awkwardly and didn't get up.  Randall laid on the turf for several minutes, before being helped off the field by medical staff.  The stadium went silent.  Back up QB Aaron Alexander immediately came in, and on the next play threw a touchdown pass to WR Antwun Williams bringing the score to 59-48.  The Steel would score another touchdown, but after a failed onside kick attempt would fall to a final score of 59-56.

After the game, rumors immediately spread that Bryan Randall had torn his ACL and would be out for the rest of the season. Truly difficult to hear as a Raider fan.  Get well soon Bryan Randall.  Aaron Alexander's time to shine in the Capitol City has come.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Can Richmond support two professional indoor football teams? part II

Having shared my thoughts on the financial future of the Richmond Revolution, now we will look at the Richmond Raiders.

Clearly, the Richmond Raiders have a better shot at long term survial than the Richmond Revolution.  To begin with, there are two owners of the Raidres one paper, Genworth CEO Mike Fraizer and his wife Elizabeth Fraizer.  Mike being the head of a fortune 500 company means in order for the Fraizer family to pay their own bills and stay comfortable financially, he doesn't have to rely on profits from the Richmond Raiders.  His primary income is non sports related, this is a huge benefit for fans.  Elizabeth handles the day to day operations of the team and the majority of the business decisions (this is my guess and has not been confirmed).  The Richmond Raiders are a privately held company, which means as an organization they are under no legal requirement to disclose publically their financial health, like any company listed on the NYSE would have too.  So we don't really know if the Raiders turned a profit last year and chances are we will never know.  Having said that, Elizabeth Fraizer has told me personally, "Our only goal is to break even," and I believe her.  The Fraizer's motivation to own a professional sports team is not at for financial gain.  The Fraizers actually own the team for two reasons, to provide something to Richmond we didn't have before and to improve Mike's reputation and presence downtown.  I can live with those reasons.

On a non related note, I have a great deal of respect for both Mike and Elizabeth.  My personal interactions with both of them have been wonderful.  Last summer, my wife Catie and I drove to a Lady Raider car wash (fund raiser) on Broad St.  When we arrived, Mike was wearing a jogging suit and washing cars by hand with a wet towel.  That spoke volumes to me. Here is a CEO of a large corporation and owner of a football team doing the dirty work, when he could have easily passed it onto someone else. 

The Richmond Colesium is the home of the Raiders, and while it is old, the bathrooms stink and is visually unappealing on the outside, it is not a bad place for professional indoor football.  Unlike the Revolution, the Raiders are not concerned with buildling an entirely new facility which costs millions of dollars, they just lease the Colesium when they need it.  While the Colesium is far from perfect, it is a suitable venue for sports and realistically could work for another 10 years with maintenance. This is also good news for Raider fans.

However, there is one thing that could jeopardize the longevity of the Richmond Raiders:  the break even point.  As Elizabeth told me, the Fraizers goal is to break even. But what if they didn't and what if they don't?  After how many years of not breaking even or turning a small profit will the Fraizers throw in the towel? I can't answer that question as important as it is. 

My final verdict: Based on attendance at the Raider preseason game and the Revolution home opener, it is unlikely Richmond will financially support two professional indoor football teams for the long term. Of the two teams, it is my opinion the Revolution will fold. The Raiders also could fold unless more paying customers fill the seats at the Colesium.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Can Richmond support two professional indoor football teams?

Richmond, Virginia has been great to me over the last 12 years. I love this city and there is no where else I would rather live. Richmond is where I met my wife, my son was born, I received my entire post high school education and I finished my first marathon. Living here allows you the chance to see a symphony concert one night, and attend a NASCAR race the next.  But Richmond has a checkered history with professional sports and that worries me.  This wonderful town has ran off so many professional teams; the Braves, the Renegades, the Speed and the Bandits.  Money of course being the main issue.

That brings us to now, 2011, and we have two professional indoor football teams both entering their sophomore seasons.  Both teams struggling to fill the stands with the same fans.  And just in case you weren't aware, no other city in the entire country has two professional indoor football teams.  There is a reason for that.  Significant capital is required to operate an indoor football team, but they don't generate a lot of revenue.  So why on Earth would two separate groups of business savvy entrepreneurs take a leap of faith into a business that has so much risk?  Let's talk about that.

The Richmond Revolution is the brain child of Steve Burton, who is currently the CEO of SportsQuest in Midlothian, VA.  Steve has a clear vision of creating a sports haven south of Richmond, which he has done by investing large sums of public and private funds to build facilities for all sports.  His vision includes an Olympic caliber swim program, a local gym, a high school for sport centered teenagers and even an NBA team.  While some of these ideas seem far off into the future, Steve is currently providing sports entertainment with 19 high tech turf fields.  Field 9 happens to the be home of the Richmond Revolution, the 2010 IFL franchise of the year.  But the franchise may be in big trouble without a large investment of capital very soon.  The IFL has granted the Revolution special permission to play outdoors this year after having some complications with the Arthur Ashe center in 2010.  So we have an indoor football team playing outdoors. Rain on game day does not worry me, it does however send off red flags that money is a serious problem.  The plan back in 2009 was for the Revolution to be playing in their new indoor facility at SportsQuest this season, and that facility would have cost $20 - $30 million dollars to build.  Well, ground hasn't even broken yet on construction.  That tells me one of two things. Burton either is broke, or he is afraid to spend the money because he doesn't care about the team or even see it lasting long term.  A reliable source close to SportsQuest once told me that the Revolution's sole purpose was to bring more locals to commit to paying $70 per month to use the gym. I don't think the Revolution fits in Burton's long term plan for SportsQuest and eventually he will see that the 2,000 fans a week won't prop it up financially.  SportsQuest is too much too fast, with no real focus which will end up killing the Revolution.

As for the future of an indoor football stadium in Midlothian think about this, NFL teams have to tap into county and city funds to build stadiums, so how can Burton build one without significant help from Chesterfield County?  Chesterfield County has already given $3.4 million dollars to Burton hoping to speed up the development of SportsQuest, but still we have not broken ground on a facility.  And if I was a entrepeneur looking for a business partner, Chesterfield County is the last place I would look.  The County is constantly cutting its budget, laying off employees and has not given its teachers a raise since 2008.

In my opinion, the Revolution will fold in the next two years.

to be continued............

Friday, March 11, 2011

Raiders dominate the Stampede

In the most lopsided victory in team history, the Richmond Raiders stomped the Harrisburg Stampede 52 - 7 this evening in Richmond's pre-season home opener in the Richmond Colesium.  Coming into the match the Raiders were 0 - 2 vs the Stampede all time, and they were ready to pay Harrisburg back for the triple overtime loss last season.  The first series would set the tone for the entire game as QB Bryan Randall threw a touchdown pass to WR Damon Thompson on the second play of the game, only a minute into the first quarter.  From there it only got worse for Harrisburg.  Richmond's defense completely shut down the Stampede offense, allowing only a short yardage touchdown run by Andre Coles for the entirety of the game.  Randall was in at Quarterback for the Raiders in the first half and was absolutely unstoppable, throwing multiple touchdown passes to WR Damon Thompson and FB Brandon Isaiah.  During the fourth quarter back up Raider QB Aaron Alexander came in, but proved to be uncapable of making anything happen with the offense, but by that time Richmond was so far ahead it didn't matter.  The most exciting point in the game came as time expired at the end of the third quarter when DL Law Lewis forced a fumble on a sack just short of the Raider endzone which was recovered for a touchdown. The Colesium rocked for sure on that play.  FB Tunde Ogun and FB Brandon Isaiah took turns running the ball, but as is the case with most indoor football teams not a lot was done on the ground.  Tunde did break for about 20 years near the end of the fourth quarter but it was called back on a penalty.

My final verdict: This is NOT the same Richmond Raider team as last year.  The Fraizers and Criswells have put together a stellar roster, and the Raiders will be a menace to any SIFL team they face in 2011. 

The Richmond Revolution are off this weekend, and will next face the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks at Lehigh Valley on 3/19/11.

The Richmond Raiders next face start up team the Trenton Steel at the Colesium on 3/19/11.

Monday, March 7, 2011

John Morris returns to Richmond and the Revolution play at home

The name John Morris is not known by the average Richmond Raider fan, but it should be.  I have never met John Morris or even seen his picture.  If I passed him on the street I would not know him from any other man.  But his return to the Richmond Colesium on Friday 3/11 is significant for a couple of reasons.  For the uninitiated John Morris was a league guy with the AIFA which had an unusual business model. In the old AIFA league ownership would provide capital to assist in getting a new team in a new city. It helped the league by providing more competition for the league while helping local ownership by lessesing the need for initial capital.  It would be the same if Roger Goodell had a financial stake in the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys at the same time, sounds like a conflict of interest right?  As far as I know, John Morris was a co-owner for the entire 2010 season. 

Luckily for Raider fans, the Fraizer family had the capital and common sense to buy John out last summer when the season ended. Today, the sole owners of the Richmond Raiders are Mike and Elizabeth Fraizer.  This allows the Fraizer family to make business decisions without the input of other minority allows them freedom and that is a good thing.

So why is John Morris returning to the Richmond Colesium this week? Well, because John Morris is a co-owner of the Harrisburg Stampede, who the Raiders will face in the preseason home opener.  This is the very same Harrisburg Stampede that beat the Raiders twice last season, including a triple overtime game in Harrisburg, PA.  The only triple overtime game in the history of the AIFA.

My final verdict on the preseason opener: a former owner and a team the Raiders have never beat are coming to town. The Raiders need to win this game bad.

The Richmond Revolution played their home opener this past Saturday against the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks.  While I was unable to attend due to family obligations, a friend went and he had a really good time with his family.  The weather held up and attendance was estimated at around 1,800, which is better than I had projected for their first outdoor game of the season. 

However not much else when well for the Revolution.  They fell to the Steelhawks 41-38 on a 17 yard touchdown pass from AJ Roque to Irani DeAraugo with 1.2 seconds left to go in the fourth quarter.  The problems for the Revolution seems to really rest on the offense in these first two games and Coach Tony Hawkins knows it.  Tony stopped short of using the word 'bad' to describe the week one offense on an AM 910 radio interview Saturday morning.  If the offense doesn't do something different and soon, the Revolution will be in hole too deep to dig out of and will miss the playoffs.

Friday, March 4, 2011

First Revolution home game of the 2011 season is tomorrow

The date 3/05/11 will go down in history as the first time a professional sports team has played in Chesterfield County, VA.  This historic event will take place when the Richmond Revolution host the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks at 5:05pm.  Both the Steelhawks and the Revolution are coming off of losing games last weekend, the only difference being the Steelhawks being an expansion team, have only played one game in team history (loss), so a win for either team would be a morale booster.  The Revolution could certainly use a win after the 44-6 trouncing in Bloomington, IL last Saturday.

The game will be played at the new SportsQuest campus located off Genito Road at 76 & 288. Yes that is the actual address posted on

Even more epic (insert another word if you like) is the fact that the IFL is an indoor football league and the SportsQuest facility is outdoors.  The IFL has granted the Revolution special permission to play outdoors since ground has not broken on what is supposed to be the Revolution home field.  Revolution staff have stated the game will be played rain or shine.  According to the weather forecast for Midlothian, VA is high of 56 and sunny, so it might not be so bad.

My final verdict: a winless team in the IFL tomorrow will go home with a .500 record. Yes very insightful, I know.

And lastly, I have it on good source that the Revolution did $7,000 worth of damage to the floor at the Arthur Ashe center last season and did not pony up any money to repair it. Sounds like a burnt bridge to me.

In Richmond Raider news, Raider training camp kicks off tomorrow as the team prepares to face the Harrisburg Stampede on 3/11/11 in it's presason opener.  During the 2010 season the Raiders practiced at the Soccer Center of Richmond (SCOR) and faced many scheduling conflicts with the other tenants. This year should be better as Mayor Jones has approved the Richmond Raiders to lease the previously vacant Dove Street Armory in North Richmond.  In addition, the Raiders are transitioning away from last years mascot Risky the Raider to a newer, more animated mascot 'Horsey'.  I will be playing the roll of Risky and Horsey tomorrow at the Dove St Armory as my friend Jack takes some photos to promote the new mascot.  GO RAIDERS!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Met Bryan Randall, Scorpio Brown and Vince Hall

Had a chance to sit down with four members of the Richmond Raiders roster and shoot the bull. A good time was had. Scorpio showed me his championship ring from the Baltimore Mariner season last year.  It was amazingly huge and gaudy, but very cool.

I am not the only one that sees the holes in SportsQuest's business model

Style Weekly has published a lengthy article regarding Steve Burton and his quest to make Chesterfield a sports hotbed.  I am not the only one that sees holes in the finances.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The current state of things part II

Like the Revolution, the Richmond Raiders had an extremely busy offseason, and while things were pretty good, they were not perfect.  Once the season ended in 2010, Head Coach Charles Gunning was relieved of his duties and moved back to Fayetteville, NC.  In his place the Fraizer's hired Coach Chris Simpson.  Coach Simpson is most recently known for his perfect season in Baltimore with the Mariners in 2010, of the now defunct AIFA.  Having spoken to Simpson, I was honestly excited to see what he could do for this franchise, after all, he IS a proven winner.  Unfortunately Simpson won't be on the sidelines on 3/11/11 at the preseason home opener, as he moved to TX with his wife so she could take a better job.  Now, I understand in tough economic times people do things that make the most sense for their own family, but I was disappointed to hear he moved on.  Simpson was a guy that would have done great things for this franchise.  The following day the Raiders announced the signing of former Philadelphia Eagle, James Fuller as head coach of the Raiders.  Honestly I do not know enough about him to give a prediction (other than his resume posted on the Raiders website), but the Criswells are still on staff and they will work to win this season.

My biggest gripe about the Raiders is double edged actually.  Of the members of the team from 2010 there are only two returners to the 2011 roster, HB/FB Craig Mangrum and DB Rece Thorne.  I would have loved to have seen a larger percentage of returners just for continuity sake and fan morale, but then I remind myself that with last year's roster the team went 6 - 8.  And of those six wins, four were against the now defunct NJ Revolution and the Fayetteville Guard.  When the team played quality opponents they got beat. They could not finish out a game.  So while I will miss Schubert, Little, Brown and Jackson, we only beat bad teams with them on the roster. 

And for the record, Schubert was my hands down favorite player on the roster last year.  He worked his ass off. I am convinced if he was 6 inches taller, he would be in the NFL.

My final verdict: The Raiders made some huge steps in the right direction this offseason, but I'm not sold on them being a championship caliber team in the SIFL.

The current state of things

What an off season it has been in Richmond, VA.  While both teams have the same owners and team names, just about everything else has changed. 

Starting with the Revolution: The Richmond Revolution had an outstanding season last year even while playing in the dirty Ashe center.  The team lost only one game in the regular season and were named IFL franchise of the year.  In addition, both Coach Steve Criswell and QB Bryan Randall won honors for their hard work.  Then the off season came and in the words of Lebron James, Coach Criswell decided to take his talents elsewhere.  Namely across town to the Richmond Raiders.  Along with Criswell came Randall, many Revolution players and his brother Gary who is currently the business operations manager for the Raiders.  After months of being without a skipper the Revolution nameTony Hawkins head coach. Where did Tony work? He was the QB coach for Benedictine HS.  Yes really.  Then after many more months of dodging questions the Revolution announced where they would play home games in the 2011 season. The outdoor facility at Sportsquest in Midlothian. Yes really. Indoor football, outside. With the season opener in Bloomington, IL the Revolution traveled to the Xtreme and were handed an ass kicking. Final score 44-6.

Its going to be a long year for the Revolution.

My final verdict: There is a reason ground hasn't broken yet in Midlothian on an indoor facility. That reason is capital.  There is no way the Revolution play indoors in 2012 unless they head back to the Ashe Center.

What is this?

You may be asking yourself WTF have I stumbled on? Let me tell you. Welcome to 'The Richmond Indoor Football Blog.'  The only place online to share opinions and strories on the professioal indoor football scene in Richmond without fear of the all mighty ban hammer.  This will be an uncensored public domain to share the honest opinions of fans of our two professional indoor football teams.  If you don't like it, click the small black 'x' in the top right corner now. Feel free to email me at or leave a comment below any of the posts.