City to review football contract

ALBANY -- City commissioners will get a look at a proposed contract between the city and representatives of an organization wanting to field an indoor football team in Albany today, city officials say.

The deal may be the last, best hope of having the popular sport in Albany for a 2010 season and comes after a tumultuous relationship between the city and the owners of the South Georgia Wildcats ended earlier this summer when the 'Cats failed to cooperate with the city's attempts to secure a place for them in Albany.

Now, the city is on the cusp of finalizing a contract between the citizens of Albany and Andre White, manager and owner of 7101 Entertainment, the parent company of the yet-to-be-named team.

"We've been negotiating with Mr. White and believe we're at a point where the commissioners can move forward with it," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said.

The contract hammered out between the two entities is essentially the same that was offered to Arena Entertainment/Management, the parent company of the Wildcats, with a few significant changes, Smith said.

According to documents obtained by The Herald and posted to www.albanyherald.com, one significant change from the previous contract is a recommendation from city staff that the team pay a flat $1,000 per month fee for concessions rights. The benefit, according to the city, is that the program is much simpler to administer and requires no financial reporting from the team to determine the city's share.

Additionally, the city is asking that the team take all kitchen and food service equipment "as is," since the city hasn't controlled any food service in the Albany Civic Center for the last five years.

The city is also upping the fee it planned to charge the team for signage, from 10 percent to 25 percent.

With the proposed changes, Smith said Monday that the city's financial obligation to the public will be around $100,000 per season.

"We budgeted the revenues, which are expected to be around $62,108, and the expenditures, which will be around $179,000 for a total of around $117,000 and that number should be lower since the changes in the contract will add more revenue to the deal," Smith said.

According to records on the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site, White, who owns and operates the Carolina Force in Greenville, S.C., may have been planning to field a Georgia team for the SIFL ever since the Wildcats' contract first went into flux in June.

Their records show that he incorporated 7101 Entertainment June 29, 2009, with a headquarters in Atlanta, at the same time that Albany was conducting negotiations with Arena Management, who, unbeknownst to the city, ultimately would not be included in the reorganization of the bankrupt AF2 league.

The SIFL is a conglomeration of seven teams, with Albany being the eighth. Expansion teams are also being courted in Fort Myers, Fla.; Galveston, Texas; Lakeland, Fla.; Pensacola, Fla.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Waco, Texas.

If the contract is accepted, Albany would play against teams in Columbus, Augusta, Greenville, S.C.; and Houma, La.; Lafayette, La.; Lake Charles, La.; and Beaumont, Texas.