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Panthers officials meet with city

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

ALBANY -- The head of the Albany Panthers indoor football team met with city officials Friday and left some at city hall believing that football will be played in Albany in 2010.

Although no one associated with the team or the league -- Southern Indoor Football League CEO Thom Hager, former owner Andre White, or current owner Rod Chappell -- returned phone calls Friday, Albany Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said that he and others had met with Chappell on Friday in what was a productive meeting.

"It was a very positive event," Smith said. "So long as (the Panthers) stay in place with the SIFL and SISM (Southern Indoor Sports Management) then no additional action by the commission will be needed for things to move forward."

The city is contractually linked to SISM and SIFL to provide access to the Civic Center and its concessions for use for an indoor football team. Thursday, Hager told The Herald that he fully expected Chappell to pay $15,000 in outstanding membership dues by the close of business today, adding that if that didn't happen, Albany would not be included in the 2010 football schedule.

The Panthers are listed on the SIFL's Web site, although a link under the schedule tab on the home page says that the 2010 schedule would be released on Dec. 31.

Smith said that while he had received no direct confirmation that the SIFL's membership dues had been paid, Friday's meeting left him of the opinion that the situation would move forward.

In fact, pending receipt of $5,000 in rent money owed for the month January for the Civic Center and a disclosure statement outlining Chappell's connection with White and SISM, Smith said the city is prepared to rescind a contract nullification letter it issued to White earlier this month when White and the SIFL had a falling out.

Will Carter, Panthers GM who was hired by White, declined comment Friday on where he stood with Chappell now that Chappell had taken over ownership. Carter also told The Herald -- which asked whether the Panthers' membership dues had been paid and if football would be played in Albany 2010 -- the team was done talking for now.

"There's been so many twists and turns in this (deal), right now we're not saying anything else until the time is right," Carter said.

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Herald sports editor Danny Aller contributed to this report