Indoor football is returning to Lincoln next spring in the form of the Lincoln Haymakers.
The Council Bluffs Express, formerly of the American Professional Football League, is moving lock, stock and shoulder pads to Pershing Center for at least six home games between April and June.
Brad Lindgren, part of the Express ownership group, said the Haymakers will join the newly formed Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL).
Although the name is unofficially “Haymakers,” there is talk of a contest to name the team that will play under 8-man football rules on a 50-yard field. The quick-paced game is played with players in motion before the snap and on a field with little to no out-of-bounds lines except for the hockey-like dasher boards that surround the field.
Lincoln has had previous indoor football franchises that played in Pershing Center. The Lincoln Lightning played from 1999-2000. New owners changed the name to the Lincoln Capitols through 2005 and boasted heavy-set men as cheerleaders known as the "Rotundas." In 2006, the Lincoln franchise merged with St. Joseph, Mo., and the team stopped playing in Lincoln.
Thomas Lorenz, general manager of Pershing Center, said he was approached about a franchise team playing in Lincoln. He said he felt the Pershing staff could adjust quickly since they have experience with indoor football.
The Haymakers ownership group includes Lindgren, Justin Hayes and Ho Chunk Inc., an economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
“We felt this is a solid group of owners from Council Bluffs (Express) that played recently at the Mid-American Center,” Lorenz said. “We said we’d work with them for two years, but after that, we don’t know because we don’t know the future of Pershing Auditorium at this time.”
Lindgren said the CPIFL will have a handful of established indoor football franchises joining the league for its inaugural season this spring.
Among the teams moving to the CPIFL are the Oklahoma Defenders (Tulsa), Mid-Missouri Outlaws (Sedalia), Sioux City Bandits, Wichita Wild and an unnamed Kansas City franchise. Lindgren said there are a few other teams that could potentially join the league as well.