City OKs Panther football

ALBANY -- There will be indoor football in Albany in 2010.

On a 5-1 vote, the Albany City Commission adopted a resolution authorizing a lease agreement between the city and Southern Indoor Sports Management and its owner Andre White that will make Albany the home of the Albany Panthers for at least the next 18 months.

During the city's work session last week, the commission asked that White provide financial documents to assure the solvency of Southern Indoor Sports Management.

After receiving that information, which shows White has invested more than $150,000 of his personal wealth in the venture, and learning that White has agreed to pay the rent for the civic center up front, commissioners voted to adopt the measure.

The contract actually contains three separate agreements. One is for the 18-month lease for use of the Albany Civic Center; the second is for concessions. The city will receive 20 percent of the net sales gained by SISM's use of the facilities and a one-year signage agreement.

The new team will join the Southern Indoor Football League, which is home to teams from Columbus, Augusta, Greenville, S.C., and others in Texas, Florida and Lousiana.

Ward 1 Commissioner Jon Howard, who was critical of the original contract presented to the city, said that after looking at White's information he's been assured that the city will encounter no major financial hardship if it agrees to move forward.

"I can live with it," he said, during the commission's pre-briefing.

"There have been some assurances made, and the length of the contract is important to me," Howard said. "I felt uncomfortable with the deal we had worked out with the Wildcats, but in 18 months we can look at this situation and see if it's something that's still good for Albany."

Ward 5 Commissioner Bob Langstaff was the only dissenting vote and offered no comment during the discussion portion of the action.

The owners of Albany's former arena football team, the South Georgia Wildcats, left the city in a lurch after backing out of a deal agreed upon by the commission earlier this year when the AF2 league filed for bankruptcy protection.