Colts back with new ownership

A lone Atlanta businessman stepped up to a podium Monday afternoon and welcomed indoor football back to Augusta.

 

"I represent a group comprised of former NFL players, current NFL players and businessmen like myself," Erick Moore said. "We're not going to deal with or worry about the past. I really do see a bright future with the Colts."

The Augusta Colts, who voluntarily sat out the 2009 season after the inaugural 2008 campaign left the team financially strapped, returned to active status Monday and will field a team for 2010, Moore said.

Moore introduced himself as a representative of Progressive Sports Entertainment, an ownership group based in Houston that purchased the controlling interest in the team from former owner John Sisson.

Moore said the ownership group is comprised of seven out- of-town investors who wish to remain anonymous, but he identified his brother-in-law, Seattle Seahawks linebacker and Clemson product Leroy Hill Jr., as part of the group.

"Some didn't want their names out there," Moore said. "But they liked Augusta because the infrastructure is already here, and I really like the situation here. I like the idea of what the team was trying to do in the community."

Sisson, who will remain general manager, and Moore declined to give details on the sale of the team.

"In dollars it wouldn't make sense if I tried to explain it," Sisson said. "I did lose money. It was not lucrative for me, but my only real intent was to keep the team going long enough for someone else who could afford it to buy it. That's what happened."

Moore said Progressive Sports now owns 51 percent of the team, and the remainder will be owned by local investors whose identity Moore declined to reveal.

"We'll disclose that within the next two weeks," he said. "They're led by a well-respected businessman here. We're just trying to make sure everything is official."

Moore said the purchase of a minor league team was the first of its kind for the investment group, and he expects the move to yield profits soon.

"Without a doubt, it can make money. Developing a business model is strictly a cookie-cutter process. There are no secrets," he said. "If we get at least 2,800 (fans) a game, we'll break even. But I think Augusta can do much better than that."

Sisson said the team still doesn't have a lease worked out to play at James Brown Arena. Arena general manager Monty Jones said he expects a deal to be "finalized within the next week or two."

Sisson said the team will switch from the American Indoor Football Association to the Southern Indoor Football League. Tom Hager, the owner of a SIFL team and the league's president, said the SIFL, beginning its second year of operation, will field 10 teams and begin play in late March. Each team will play a 12-game schedule.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.

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