By Jesse Wood
The pieces are falling into place for the Boone-based High Country Grizzlies – the newest franchise of the American Indoor Football league that begins play in the spring of 2017. It looks as if they have a logo, a home and a TV contract.
At a Boone Town Council meeting last week, the High Country Grizzlies director of football/general manager William Thompson introduced the venture to the town. Johnson noted that the franchise has a contract with WHKY-TV to broadcast 10 of the Grizzlies games to 1.2 to 2.6 million viewers in multiple states in the region.
Thompson announced that the franchise has an “open agreement” with Appalachian State University officials to play home games in the Holmes Convocation Center. The team begins play in the spring of 2017.
Thompson noted that the AIF season runs in March, April and May.
“We want to help revive that dead time of the year and bring people to Boone to enjoy festive football entertainment inside the Holmes Convocation Center,” Thompson said.
Another Grizzlies representative present at the council meeting noted that the teams – players and coaches – have a local economic impact of nearly $500,000 whenever they go on the road to AIF games. The team rep stressed that this figure doesn’t include any financial impact derived from the fans, which will eat in restaurants, sleep in hotels and shop in the boutiques.
Thompson said he had to stay mum on some of the other exciting details.
“Players will come from all over the world. We are in negotiations with some very interesting personnel, but we’ll let that stay where it is [for now],” said Thompson, who worked on ASU Coach Jerry Moore’s football staff in the ‘90s.
In April, the AIF announced the new franchise, which is owned by a small group of investors, including majority owner and entrepreneur Donald Thompson (no relation to general manager William Thompson). Other investors include a championship-college football coach and a former Appalachian State University All-American football player.
Thompson has a background in football. His father was a NCAA Division 1 football coach and he was awarded a football scholarship to East Carolina University.
“As the son of a coach, and former collegiate athlete I have always dreamed about extending my career as a professional athlete,” Thompson said in April. “It is with great joy and enthusiasm that our association with AIF will allow us to create a winning franchise for our fans and an opportunity for our players to chase their dreams.”
The AIF has 19 teams competing in the 2016 season, split into the Southern and Northern divisions.
Southern Division teams include Albany, Ga., Atlanta, Ga., Columbus, Ga., Corpus Christi, Tx., Estero, Fl., Lakeland, Fl., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Pueblo, Co., Rio Rancho, N.M., and Savannah, Ga.
Northern Division teams include Allentown, Pa., Chicago, Il., Harrisburg, Pa., Highland Heights, Ky., Muskegon, Mi., Philadelphia, Pa., Raleigh, N.C., St. Charles, Mo., and Winston-Salem, N.C.
Grizzlies Logo Contest
Earlier this year, Creative Allies, which Donald Thompson helms as the CEO, held a logo contest for the High Country Grizzlies. The REDPIN handle won the contest and $1,000 cash and prizes with the attached design. The color scheme requirements were orange, black and silver.
See all of the designs entered here.