Despite boasting the hottest team in the American Arena League as it concludes its inaugural season, Georgia Doom owner Kevin Adkins has pled nolo contendere to any postseason run.
That decision, a right granted owners under AAL by-laws, was communicated by Adkins in a memo to AAL President Jack Bowman on Friday, fully a day before the Doom beat the Atlanta Havoc, 48-42, to secure what would have been a third seed in playoff action starting this weekend. However, Adkins never clued in anyone within his own organization even after the game, and no by-law can exonerate him of this C-level cowardice.
In fact, the first public word came from neither Adkins nor the AAL but from Richmond Roughriders principal owner Gregg Fornario, who remains the only source of accurate information coming out of the inner sanctum of the world’s second most-reclusive regime behind North Korea. Fornario broke the news on a Facebook forum shortly before 11 PM Saturday night, just after the Doom’s regular season finale.
The announcement fittingly sent shock waves throughout the AAL as Fornario’s post picked up traction early Sunday. That’s how Head Coach Gerald Dockery and a number of Doom players learned of their fate, and they reacted with an understandable mix of incredulity and denial, accepting neither the cancellation nor the rumored reason – an inability to fund any more road games. Throughout the day Sunday, several players insisted they were playing this weekend, even as the Carolina Energy formally announced their trip to Richmond and the Havoc began preparations for the Cape Fear Heroes. Dockery himself commented, “I know money wasn’t the issue.”
Turns out, it was the only issue.
In a story released this morning by Arena Football Insider, author Jay Luster sheds light on the week that would prove to be the Doom’s swan song. As it turns out, the organization was busy looking for a capital infusion “to add a second team to their ownership’s portfolio.” Speculation is that Adkins chose to retain cash reserves to fund expansion rather than expend them pursuing a championship. So much for any bird-in-the-hand mindset there.
As Arena Football Insider reports, the big hurdle was the expense of a potential trip to Richmond for the league’s championship game. According to Richmond owner Fornario, the Roughriders spent $18,000 all-in for their game in Macon last month, so that establishes the neighborhood Adkins was looking at. He’d also have some costs in the 75-minute drive up the Interstate to Buford. Assuming maximum per-game salaries allowed by the league and throwing in some player per diems and coaches’ salaries, this beat-down of the Atlanta Havoc would have been as economical as it was presumptive, capping Adkins’ postseason bill at less than $25,000. Instead, he exercised his “option to not participate in the playoffs”, according to the memo sent to the AAL.
“A team opt-out is a polite way of saying they folded,” said Fornario when Fifty Yarder asked if such a right had been granted to AAL owners.
So, how did things ever get this far? From the blame pie each of us bakes after hearing any bomshell news, Adkins will be served a hefty piece. Many in the Doom organization will slice another for the AAL, claiming somehow that they’ve been victimized by a predisposition to a Roughriders-Havoc showdown as if Adkins’ alligator arms were pinned from reaching for the postseason tab. While we’re at it, how about one for the Doom players? After all, they were too damned good and their Paul Newman act screwed up Adkins’ vision of becoming the Charlestown Chiefs of the AAL.
But after all the cutting and serving, there’s a heap of pie left on the plate. That belongs to the good people of Macon.
Last November Adkins asked for their help, telling the Macon Telegraph, “community support is what’s going to help us make this a successful and long-lasting organization.” And they responded with lip-service support, telling him they were excited to have arena football back after an 11-year hiatus. So, what happened?
By-and-large, the business community did their part. There were promotional events galore and barely any vacant dasher board panels lining the field at the Macon Centreplex. Advertisers financially supported DSBN Sports’ livestream coverage, and that couldn’t be cheap given it’s the best in the business.
But in a metropolitan area of 229,000 in the heart of Football America that hosts one of the best venues in the AAL, attendence at the Centeplex never passed 1,600 people, averaging around 1,200. That’s nine empty seats for every one occupied.
Don’t blame Adkins or the Doom for that. They did everything from being a constant community presence to running appreciation nights for college students, teachers, and the military. Hell, you could buy a $15 ticket to see NAL-caliber talent and have a kid get in free.
It’s unfortunate to see a community resource wasted, especially one that is among the dozen best arena teams on the East Coast. In the end, Maconites seemingly preferred Saturdays of meat-and-threes over first-and-tens. It’s a pity tgar their apathy will in part deprive the rest of us of a great postseason.