RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Raiders, who have played for the last six years in the Professional Indoor Football League, are declining to commit to that league for their 2016 season.
In a message posted to the team Facebook page by team owners Mike and Elizabeth Frazier, the Raiders came to this decision after learning membership in the PIFL will fall from 7 teams to just 3. Franchises in Trenton, NJ and Erie, PA left the league in late August and the team in Lehigh Valley, PA is moving to a lower tier league. Instead of moving to a lower tier league themselves, the Raiders are “standing back” from a commitment to play in 2016.
This past season, the Raiders made the PIFL championship game for the third time in the past four years.
The full post to the team’s Facebook page is below.
A MESSAGE FROM THE RICHMOND RAIDERS MANAGEMENT TO THE RICHMOND RAIDERS NATION: As previously communicated, our organization has been evaluating changes with the East coast based Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) resulting from the recent departure of two of the seven teams which comprised the league during the 2015 season. This comes after the Richmond Raiders completed six successful seasons of exciting indoor football which enabled players to grow and move up in the professional football ranks while the team contributed actively in the community. With five teams remaining as of two weeks ago ( soon to be three as outlined below) and a range of views among team ownership groups, our current choices came down to moving to lower level indoor football leagues or standing back from committing to play in the Spring of 2016 to focus our energies on three key areas.
These areas include: identifying an attractive league situation for the future; continuing our work on player development through our relationship with Sports Reality performance training and its 50 000 sf. NFL caliber facility; and maintaining our community impact and engagement efforts through our IMPACT “player to youth” school outreach program and our Lady Raiders dance team. Based on everything in front of us at this point, the organization is taking the second path.
Two league teams we understand will also step back from committing to 2016 to assess options and plan for the future. Two other teams have communicated to us that they will move to a lower level league. Assessing the options under the circumstances was approached with discipline and certain principles in mind. Our organization has a consistent set of criteria in evaluating leagues which include: – A quality and consistency of game play which provides players a clear platform to progress in the upper level professional football ranks and provides fans high caliber professional indoor football – Operating and financial stability of other teams in the league – Evaluating each league’s business model, ownership structure and the input teams have in a league – Clarity of league operations and insurance coverage among teams – Ability to have a balanced game schedule within the targeted season – Reasonable travel distances among teams and – The avoidance of circumstances that could bring game situations that can only be described as “semi-pro” which devalues the quality offering achieved through a lot of hard work along with the support of sponsors, fans, and team members over the years.
We recognize that no league is perfect, but the PIFL demonstrated the best mix of these characteristics over the past four years. Review of these factors for the 2016 season at this point has not identified a league situation within our geographic area with which we are comfortable. If something changes, we will consider each situation on its merits. However, unlike 95 percent of professional indoor football teams, we have other attractive options as an organization given our relationship with Sports Reality. So looking ahead, regardless of league situations, we plan to remain active as an organization through Sports Reality on several fronts. First, by offering professional football development programs for player prospects and players looking to improve their capabilities for both the indoor and outdoor games and supplementing these programs with player marketing/agent support. With this goal in mind, we are targeting relationships with specific teams and leagues.
Complimentary activities could include indoor pro football special event game play opportunities and new city expansion test games supported by an exhibition team. Second, using our Lady Raiders and their staff as a foundation, we plan on offering developmental programs for dance squads and dancers so they can perform or prepare to perform at the level expected by professional athletic teams. Finally, we are exploring opportunities to put on events for other indoor sports given assets we control – fields, facilities, equipment and experience. Together, these efforts enable our continued involvement in community service and engagement activities. While we cannot predict professional indoor football league dynamics, we are hopeful that a more positive situation evolves in the future. In the near term, we recognize that some players and coaches will make decisions to move on to other league situations and we certainly appreciate their contributions to the organization and wish them well. We also expect other players and coaches to take advantage of the new opportunities as they unfold. To our fans and sponsors we sincerely appreciate all the support that you have provided over the past six years … at the same time we are focused on building for the future and hope to engage you in new sports and community related activities as we move ahead.
Sincerely, Elizabeth and Mike Fraizer Richmond Raiders LLC September 8, 2015