National Football League Hall of Famer and legendary Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann is returning to Pittsburgh and professional football as an owner, but not with the Steelers.
Swann and Matt Shaner, Chief Executive Officer of Shaner Investments L.P., are teaming up with the Arena Football League’s newest franchise – the Pittsburgh Power, which will begin play in the spring of 2011.
“We’re very excited about it,” Swann said. “I think the Pittsburgh Power is a great name. We’ll be black and gold and tap into that excitement and fan base here in Pittsburgh.
“To be a part of a new team and help build it from the ground up was intriguing. I believe the Shaner family and Shaner Investments has the financial legs to be the primary and majority owner for a long period of time. That’s important. To me it represents a great opportunity.”
|Lynn Swann (left) and Matt Shaner (right) are the new co-owners of Pittsburgh's new Arena Football League franchise - the Power. |
Swann and Shaner worked for the last two years to bring an AFL team back to the city of Pittsburgh - the Pittsburgh Gladiators played from 1987 to 1991 but relocated to Tampa Bay. Two weeks ago their efforts paid off when the duo signed the final contract and the Power went from fantasy to reality.
Swann, Shaner and AFL Expansion Chairman Brett Bouchy were at CONSOL Energy Center of Friday morning to make the official announcement.
“It’s kind of sinking in,” Shaner said. “The fact that you have a football team in the CONSOL Energy Center takes a little getting used to, and working with someone like Lynn Swann. I’m excited to get our coaching staff and I think there will be a lot of interest in our city tryouts. I’m excited to see that.”
The Arena Bowl will be played Friday night at 8 p.m. on NFL Network with Tampa Bay and Spokane squaring off. Swann will appear during the telecast to discuss the Power.
The AFL scheduled runs from April to June, or August if the Power are playing in the Arena Bowl. The spring schedule fills the football void left by the NFL, and Shaner sees that as one key to the Power’s future prosperity.
“This is a football town. This is football town, USA,” Shaner said. “We’re not the Steelers, but there are a lot of people, including myself, that when the football season is over we don’t know what to do with ourselves. There’s a hunger out there for football.
“We’re going to be offering tickets for $15. So we’ll have people from all economic walks of life that can get into a game. We’re also offer, up to the highest level, loge boxes, corporate sponsorships, so that’s why we think we’ll be successful.”
The Power will be holding tryouts for players, which will likely include local Pittsburgh prospects.
“We’re probably going to have three city tryouts,” Shaner said. “The first tryout will be in either September or October. We’re going to have open tryouts. Anyone who thinks their good enough to be on the team will have a shot.”
And for Swann, the team will give him a shot at getting involved in professional football again, although in a different capacity than he’s used to.
“I see it as a great opportunity,” he said. “You can’t buy into or get an ownership piece in very many sports teams. It’s also a learning opportunity. I played football. I understand the game well. But knowing more from the business side is going to be a great addition. I’m looking forward to that.”
For more information on the Pittsburgh Power and Arena Football League, visit www.pittsburghpowerfootball.com and www.arenafootball.com.