TAKING ARENA FOOTBALL BACK TO THE STREETS OF NEW YORK
By Peter Schwartz
The New York area has had a few Arena Football teams before but none of them as successful as the New York Dragons with an eight year run at the Nassau Coliseum from 2001 to 2008. When the Dragons stepped off the field in Philadelphia after a controversial and heartbreaking loss to the Soul on the final play of a second round playoff game in 2008, there would be no next time.
The Arena Football League shut down after the 2008 season and when it returned in 2010, it did so without a New York franchise and it stayed that way until a man who frequently attended Dragons games as a fan fulfilled a dream by bringing the fifty yard indoor war back to the Big Apple. On December 13th, the National Arena League Board of Advisors unanimously approved an expansion team for the New York City market to begin play for the 2019 season.
After a process that took a couple of years, the New York Streets were born and are now just a few months away from hitting the gridiron.
“We are excited to offer this team to the football fans that have been denied Spring/Summer football that's affordable to the general population,” said owner Corey Galloway, the founder of Legacy Growth Partners LLC, a private investment firm based in New York City.
Galloway, a Brooklyn native and an alum of Erasmus High School, also operates PACPLEX, a sports facility in Canarsie, Brooklyn where the Streets will practice and have their team offices. It’s a facility that includes a 75,000 square foot health club, three indoor basketball courts, an indoor soccer field, swimming pools, a boxing arena and a racquetball court.
And there’s an Arena Football field on the way for the Streets to practice on.
New York’s newest sports franchise was formally introduced to the market at a Manhattan press conference on December 18th. When the Streets kick off in April of 2019, it will end an eleven year Arena Football drought in New York. It’s been a while since local football fans have had a team to cheer for during the NFL offseason.
Let’s face it, there’s an appetite in this country and this market for more football.
“In the United States, 37% of the population considers themselves football fans,” said Galloway who has become the first African-American owner of a New York franchise. “The New York market has over 23 million people in the metropolis and we are hoping to a have a big part of that 37% at our games or watching on our local broadcast partner.”
While Galloway cut his teeth in Arena Football cheering on the Dragons, he’s no stranger to running an indoor football team. He served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Harrisburg Stampede of the Professional Indoor Football League and saw that team win a championship in 2013. On the coaching staff of the Stampede was veteran Arena Football coach Rick Marsilio who served as Assistant General Manager, Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator.
So when Galloway began the process of hiring the Streets’ first ever Head Coach, the search started and ended with Marsilio.
“Rick and I worked together during the Stampede days and we had a good run there winning a championship,” said Galloway. “He knows the Indoor/Arena space as well as anyone in the game. We expect the same results of a championship in New York.”
In order to win a championship, the Streets will leave no stone unturned in putting a competitive roster on the field. The Streets already signed former Syracuse quarterback David Legree and they’ll continue to round out the roster with free agent signings and open tryouts. The goal is to get the best possible players and that doesn’t mean the search is limited to North America.
“We are looking for the best players in the country and aren't opposed to finding talent globally as well,” said Galloway. “We recently put out an offer to a defensive tackle from Alabama and he's a stud that was with the NFL for a quick second.”
While prior Arena Football teams in New York and New Jersey have played at Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands Arena, the Streets are going to play their home games initially at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. With a season capacity of 3,000, the Streets are going to enjoy a unique home field advantage with a small but loud venue.
“There are a lot of opportunities of having a unique space and we liken it to the Broadway musical Hamilton,” said Galloway. “We want a special place and experience that fans and families are dying to attend or watch. We will enjoy going to a bigger venue, but at the same time, we are happy to offer the New York fans an intimate experience that is impossible to attain through the NFL.”
Galloway has achieved a dream of owning a professional sports team and now he’s hard at work getting the franchise off the ground and ready to compete for the NAL championship in 2019. Growing up in New York, Galloway has had a chance to see how other owners have conducted business and there’s one that stands out to him.
Perhaps he wants to be the new “Boss”!
“I've really appreciated what the Steinbrenner family has done with the Yankees,” said Galloway. “Witnessing (late owner) George (Steinbrenner) bringing in Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella and the others of the 1977 and 1978 World Series champion Yankees, he really helped continue that tradition. I would like to have the tradition of the Yankees and it started with our logo that we made sure was traditional and representing the essence of New York.”
As a fan, Galloway watched the Dragons field a strong team but they just couldn’t get over the hump to win an AFL title. Over a decade after Arena Football left the New York market, Galloway has brought the sport back with the New York Streets fulfilling a dream to become the owner of a football team. The pieces are being put into place that could lead to New York’s newest team becoming the Big Apple’s newest champion.
Arena Football is back on the “Streets” of New York!