The first question that comes to mind after the Tri-Cities Fever finished its 2014 Indoor Football League season Saturday night — beating the visiting Colorado Ice 47-33 — is what’s next for the franchise?
Team owner Teri Carr confirmed after the game that the team has agreed with the Three Rivers campus to play the 2015 season at the Toyota Center.
“I met with Cory (Pearson, executive director of the Three Rivers campus) on Tuesday, and there should be no problems,” said Carr.
A year ago, Carr was conflicted as to whether to run the team another season or shut the franchise down.
Dwindling attendance numbers had the bottom line floundering in the red.
But this has been a better season, topped by the 3,800 fans who attended Saturday’s seventh and final home game.
“I thought that the (attendance for the) first three games (this season) were great,” said Carr. “I was pleased. Obviously there is room for improvement. The next three I was not as happy because the numbers were the same as last year. But looking at this (last) game the numbers were up. So overall, it’s promising.”
As for Fever coach Adam Shackleford, the plan right now is for him to be back.
“Teri and I have had conversations,” said Shackleford. “She’s bringing the team back. There have been some rumors out there with the AFL and my name, but I’m not interested. I have a safer contract here than if I had an AFL contract that the league manages.”
Injuries hamper Fever
Both Carr and Shackleford admit that had the Fever, which finished 8-6, made the playoffs, the team would have been hard pressed to win next weekend after all of the injuries it suffered.
Wide receiver Harry Peoples went down in the first quarter when he was returning a kickoff.
“Harry has a patella tendon tear, and he’ll have surgery,” said Shackleford. “Those you never know about until you get in there. It could be up to six months he’s out.”
Wide receiver Jackie Chambers left the game in the second half when he tweaked a hamstring.
But the scariest injury happened to Fever running back Keithon Flemming, who was brought down by a high tackle near the goal line, and he was wheeled off on a stretcher.
“There’s no broken bones, just some ligament issues in the neck,” said Flemming on Sunday night. “Also there’s something they caught in the CT scan that they want to look at.”
Flemming said it was a scary situation.
“The (Colorado) guy grabbed the back of my helmet and yanked as I fought for more yards,” said Flemming. “I know I heard a pop. I actually tried to get up and walk it off. But I was struggling to get up.”
Fans could see him moving his legs.
“It got to the point I felt my legs and arms going numb,” he said. “I tried to move them. And (the EMTs) were telling me to not move.”
Shackleford went down to where Flemming’s fiancee was sitting.
“I told her ‘This is gonna look a lot worse than it is. They’re going to put a brace around his neck. But it’s going to be all right,’ ” Shackleford said.
But Flemming, who has also been playing with two broken ribs, admitted he was scared.
“The first thing I thought was ‘How am I going to play with my two kids?’” he said. “We’re planning our wedding. It was extremely scary. The biggest thing was at the bottom of the pile I was being punched and kneed in the ribs. I didn’t understand it. They had already clinched a playoff spot.
“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to the Cowboys and the Seahawks,” Flemming said. “That’s why this injury is frustrating. It was no reason to do what they did.”