Tri-Cities Fever

Fever's division foes likely to change

KENNEWICK - Tri-Cities Fever owner Teri Carr heads to Chicago this week for the Indoor Football League meetings.

She has one burning question that needs to be answered: What will the Fever's division look like for the 2012 season?

Here's what it looked like in 2011: the Fairbanks Grizzlies, Seattle Timberwolves, the Fever and the Wenatchee Valley Venom.

The Venom is out, with the co-owners shutting down the franchise after last season. The Grizzlies also might be done.

"Officially we haven't heard anything yet," Carr said. "Unofficially, challenges in the workman's comp issue have come up again."

Last season, the Fairbanks franchise almost folded after the first month when the team was notified by the state of Alaska it had to pay more than $100,000 in workman's compensation.

Only when the league, Fairbanks fans and businesses intervened with more money was the season saved.

That leaves the Fever and Seattle, which announced earlier this month the team was moving out of ShoWare Center in Kent to Comcast Arena in Everett.

Carr said she got a call from the Timberwolves' owners Tuesday, telling her the papers were signed for the Everett facility.

So that leaves just the two teams from last season.

Other options could be having the Colorado Ice, Wyoming Cavalry and a rumor of anywhere between one and three expansion franchises from California join the division.

Carr, in fact, was busy Wednesday looking at her travel budget.

"It's not pretty," she said. "Even if you take Fairbanks out of the equation."

Carr will have her final answer by Saturday. In fact, she'll have many more answers to other questions.

Asked what she thought the number of teams for the league would be in 2012, she said 16.

"That's what several of the owners are saying," Carr said. "We're just going by playing partners we can count on without fail."

That number would be down from the 22 franchises the IFL had last season.

But sometimes, less is more.

Last season teams, such as the Bricktown Brawlers of Oklahoma City and the Arizona Adrenaline, limped to the season's finish line by using semipro players.

"I don't want to deal with that again," said Carr. "We just want some strong teams."

To that end, Carr said the owners have really scrutinized potential expansion owners.

"We were just reviewing a possible expansion team, and we were harder on (the potential owner) than anyone in the past," she said.

Notes

Carr said season-ticket renewals are at 50 percent to this point, which is about normal. ... Carr said she was never worried about head coach Adam Shackleford returning to the Arena Football League's Spokane Shock after that team fired Rob Keefe after this post season. Shackleford was the Shock's head coach before Keefe, and his home is in Spokane. "I know what Adam's thoughts are as far as his career and where he wants to go. He's pretty transparent with me on that. If Adam ever considers another job, I'll be the first to know." To his credit, Shackleford said he never even considered the opening and wouldn't have taken a phone call from Shock management. "And they wouldn't have called me either," he said. Shackleford is just starting his second season of a three-year deal he signed with the Fever last year. ... Carr expects the first draft of the 2012 schedule to come out in mid-October. But revisions are expected. She said last year, the 2011 schedule finally came out in late November after the eighth revision. ... Fever offensive lineman Carl Barnett signed with the AFL's Georgia Force, while kicker Gary Cismesia signed with the Kansas City Command.

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