Chappell takes control of Albany arena football team

ALBANY -- City officials say that they are moving forward with plans to house an indoor football team in 2010 despite recent developments that changed some of the principal figures involved in the deal.

Wednesday, Southern Indoor Sports Management's Rod Chappell appeared poised to take over responsibilities associated with forming the Albany Panthers. Thursday, Chappell came to Albany, toured facilities and spoke with city officials about the future of indoor football in Albany, said Thom Hager, president and CEO of the Southern Indoor Football League.

Chappell will likely take over where former team owner and SISM Founder Andre White left off -- developing a viable and sustainable program in Albany.

"I just got a text message from Rod Chappell who says he did the walk through in Albany (on Thursday) and he has signed off on everything. Everyone is excited," Hager said Thursday.

Meanwhile, city officials will accommodate the change in principals involved with the contract that currently exists with SISM, but will require what they called a disclosure statement from Chappell outlining his ties to the group and $5,000 for January's rent payment on the Albany Civic Center.

"Since our contract is with SISM and not one specific individual, I don't foresee any major issues," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said Thursday. "We will be asking for rent for January and they'll be expected to pay February and March as well, as per the previous agreement."

But despite the signs of hope, there still is the matter of SISM's membership dues to the SIFL -- an issue that has caused friction between the two agencies.

Chappell himself couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, but Hager clarified where Chappell's financials stood in terms of securing a spot in the SIFL after telling The Herald on Wednesday that Chappell had already paid his $15,000, one-time membership fee to join the league.

"Basically, everything looks great (as far as Chappell's financial security) goes. What happened Wednesday was that he approved the $15,000 but (the SIFL) is still waiting on the wire transfer. I do know that Rod was delayed leaving Atlanta on Thursday for Albany, and I have every reason to believe that's the reason for the hold up. But the fact Rod (was in Albany most of the day Thursday) and spent it talking to (Albany Civic Center Director) John Mazzola shows his intentions he's ready to play football in Albany. Right now, we're just still in the 'Jerry Maguire' stage: Show me the money."

If Hagar and the SIFL don't see the money, the SIFL 2010 football schedules, which are set to come out today, will be short one team, he said.

"Rod's ready to go for 2010 and so are we, but I will say this: (The SIFL) is releasing its 2010 schedule at the end of the day (today) and if the money is not in our account, we're moving ahead without Albany.

That being said, if Rod decides he wants to play this year, he will then

owe the monthly membership dues, as well. If he gets his money in and decides not to play in 2010, then at least he and the SIFL are locked into Albany for 2011."

Smith said that despite the ongoing issues between the SIFL and SISM, the city has been moving ahead with behind-the-scenes work, making

sure that everything -- from their perspective -- is as it should be.