Maddox Football, Inc. announced Friday that the franchise rights to the Memphis Xplorers arena football team will be allowed to revert to the af2 arena football league unless a buyer steps forward to purchase the team by the end of this month. The decision to close the team was recommended by the Maddox Sports Advisory Council, a group of local leaders organized by the Maddox Foundation to promote community and local governmental involvement in the Xplorers and RiverKings sports franchises.
Maddox Football, Inc. was established in 2002 by the Maddox Foundation to purchase and operate the Xplorers franchise as a means of reducing the burden of the DeSotoCounty government in supporting the viability of the DeSotoCivicCenter. At that time, the Xplorers football team and RiverKings hockey team were anchor tenants for the CivicCenter, providing the majority of event-related revenues for the arena.
Through 2006, the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors provided general operating subsidies to the CivicCenter of $500,000 or more annually. The CivicCenter did not seek a subsidy from the County for its operations this year, despite the fact that the Xplorers did not field a team in 2007. CivicCenter officials cited the growth of income from the county tourism tax and the steady growth in the number of events in recent years at the arena as reasons for not needing the subsidy.
The Xplorers became a perennial playoff team under Coach Danton Barto, and captured the af2 league championship in 2005, but attendance averaged only slightly over 2,000 at their home games. While the team had a loyal fan base, it never reached the level, even in the championship year, where it attracted a substantial level of community sponsorship, other than the commitment made by the Maddox Foundation.
Maddox Foundation has made substantial program-related investments since 2002 to operate and support the franchise for the benefit of the County and the community. According to studies commissioned by the Foundation, these investments generated over $9 million in direct economic impacts, jobs and personal income for the region. The team’s operations provided additional support to area nonprofit organizations and team members also played important roles as community volunteers.
Maddox Foundation and Maddox Football, Inc. want to thank all Xplorers fans, and all those who participated as front office staff, coaches and players for the organization. We particularly want to thank former Coach Danton Barto and all those who participated in the 2005 championship season, and recognize their hard work and dedication to the team. Through the loyalty of our fans, and the work of those in the organization, the Foundation achieved its goal of supporting the CivicCenteruntil it could become a premier venue for community events such as high school graduations in the County and a viable tool for the County’s long-term economic development.
Anyone interested in discussing the purchase of the franchise rights to the team may contact Paul Morris, the corporation’s secretary, at 662-449-3699. Absent any serious inquiries, Maddox Football will notify the af2 league on August 24 that it no longer intends to operate the Xplorers.