Friday afternoon, officials with the El Paso Sports Commission, the El Paso County Coliseum, in conjunction with the County of El Paso, announced the addition arena football the West Texas Buccaneers of the American Arena League to the long and storied history of the El Paso County Coliseum.
The West Texas Buccaneers are a brand-new arena/indoor football team, which will be playing in a new yet-to-be-named division made up of new teams in Texas.
New teams in the Lone Star State include Allen, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
In attendance to speak on behalf of the West Texas Buccaneers are owner Craig Thomas (Eastwood HS 1985), Jeffrey Turnbull (Riverside 2006, four years professional football, 7 years semi-professional football), Michael Bimbo (Chapin 2009, 2 years arena football, 5 years semi-professional football), and Ramen Lerma, Jr. (Andress 2018).
Exhibition/Preseason games are scheduled for Saturday, November 21 and Saturday, December 12; however due to the Coronavirus, ticket and spectator information will be announced at a later date.
2021 will be the fifth year of action for the American Arena League. In 2020, for the second consecutive year the AAL was the largest professional arena league in the US.
The AAL has averaged over 40 players annually with NFL ties. Players include former Super Bowl starters and All Pro players. In addition, team rosters generally consist of former D1 players and All Americans.
The Mission Statement of the AAL is simple; “Provide affordable family entertainment in communities so that ‘Having Fun’ is contagious while showcasing professional football players.”
In 2016, the Arena Pro Football League was founded by its CEO, Tony Zefiretto, and Emeritus League President, Jack Bowman. Zefiretto is a former college coach, executive in arena football and arena coach. His experience also includes team executive in major league baseball and as a Vice President and General Manager in minor league baseball. Bowman was a long-time successful coach, General Manager and League Executive in arena football. Both are in the Minor League Football Hall of Fame.
Due to the success of the APF, at the conclusion of its inaugural season, teams from three other leagues decided to join their ranks. That consolidation prompted the league to change its name to the American Arena League (AAL).
The two executives initially discussed the concept in 2003, when Bowman was GM of the Myrtle Beach Stingrays Arena Football team and Zefiretto served as Senior Director for the former Atlanta Braves affiliate in Myrtle Beach. These two founders were determined to create a business model similar to the one utilized in minor-league baseball. “We want to bring fun and affordable family entertainment to smaller cities,” said Zefiretto. “Our expectation is that AAL teams are committed to their communities. fans, sponsors and today’s youth.”
NFL Hall of Fame Committee Member Ira Kaufman – “The AAL has quickly grown into the largest professional arena league in the United States. The league is considering an AAL2 division and a division for “Affiliated Teams”. These divisions would serve teams who anticipate transitioning into professional arena football.
AAL CEO, Tony Zefiretto, has instilled a “fans come first” culture, mandating everyone in the organization to deliver a superb experience. “With former NFL, D1 and All-American players, our goal is to put the highest quality product on the field for our fans to enjoy at an affordable price.” To help provide the ultimate fan experience, at the conclusion of each game, fans are invited onto the field to meet the players, take pictures, and obtain autographs. “It’s what makes us different” says Zefiretto.
To ensure long-term viability, the league founders enlisted a staff of high-quality individuals with years of successful experience in professional sports and within the business world. The league also created a branding opportunity for its members, as each team can now sell their apparel in local Walmart stores.