KENNEWICK -- Adam Shackleford wants everyone to know -- players, fans, Tri-Cities Fever ownership and especially other Indoor Football League teams -- that he is not going anywhere.
The Fever coach who led his team to a 13-5 record and the United Bowl championship game says he's honoring his guaranteed contract. In fact, next spring, he'll be in the second season of the three-year deal he signed with Fever owner Teri Carr.
"I know there are a lot of IFL teams telling players that I'm gone to the (Arena Football League)," Shackleford said. "I've got some phone calls (from AFL teams). Teri's got some phone calls. I have declined every opportunity. I got some calls during the season. I told Teri they were probably going to come. But I want to be here."
Shackleford isn't even listening to the proposals from AFL teams.
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"It's not about the money," he said. "It's about me being somewhere where I can support my family. I work for good people. The AFL needs to fix their coaches' contracts. A coach can move his family across the country and then get cut loose. In our league, we're able to negotiate our deals."
So Shackleford is set, and he'll spend the summer going between his Spokane home and the Tri-Cities every few weeks.
And because this is minor league sports, nothing is ever set in stone. So the question begged to be asked.
"Yes, we're coming back for the 2012 season," Carr said. "I've already committed to the league verbally."
Carr and Shackleford spent this week saying their goodbyes to the players that led the Fever to the title game but lost 37-10 to the Sioux Falls Storm.
"There was a sting there, and I wish we would have played better," Shackleford said. "But I thanked the players for their efforts. I thanked them for taking on the burden of this rebuilding process. I was asked to help rebuild this team. They were asked to do extra things that were not in their contracts. They did, and they bought in."
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, Shackleford rates this season at an 8.
"I don't think not winning the championship took anything away from us," he said. "If you look at the overall season and what we accomplished, a year ahead of schedule, we had a great season. We accomplished a lot, and we set a standard in the Tri-Cities."
As far as who comes back next season, who knows?
"I don't want to set a goal," Shackleford said. "I think a target number would be eight to 10 guys coming back. Then you build some talented rookies around them. Then you find five guys from around the league."
But it all depends on who has the opportunities to move up.
As it is, Shackleford has offered 30 players contracts for the 2012 season. Most of them likely won't sign, so he'll offer more.
Carr rated the combined on-field experience with the business side of things and came up with a 6 on the 1-to-10 scale.
Most of what frustrated the IFL's executive of the year was attendance. The team couldn't get past the 3,500 mark during the season for any game.
"It doesn't matter how much money you spend in advertising," Carr said. "It doesn't seem to translate to more attendance. I think we have a great base of fans and sponsors. How we build on that, we're still discussing."
Carr said the 2012 season-ticket drive will begin in a few weeks.
Expansion applications for franchises must be in to the league by Sept. 1. The league meetings will be in Chicago in early October.
Carr plans to add more money to the Fever's ledger -- especially with Wenatchee Valley's owners announcing the team will be dark in 2012.
"It's gonna mean a large travel budget for us in 2012," she said.