The Council Bluffs Express is on a one-way trip out of town.
indoor professional team, which has played in the last four American
Professional Football League championship games, is ceasing operations
to start anew in a different city and new league.
Lincoln (Neb.) Haymakers will open play in the Champions Professional
Indoor Football League at Pershing Auditorium in early March.
Justin Hayes and Brad Lindgren have sold the majority interest of the
franchise to Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the
will remain with the team as minority owners. Lindgren will also serve
as the team's general manager while Hayes will be the director of
football operations and player personnel.
CPIFL formed last month during a potential owners meeting in Council
Bluffs. After weighing the options of staying in Council Bluffs or
moving to either Lincoln or Salina, Kan., the ownership group eventually
settled on Lincoln within the last month.
The Haymakers opened their Lincoln office in the Haymarket Monday.
CPIFL also currently includes champion Sioux City, Tulsa (Okla.) and
Mid-Missouri from the APFL. Wichita (Kan.), previously in the Indoor
Football League, and Kansas City will join them.
Unlike the APFL, the CPIFL has a commissioner and head of officials that are not affiliated with any team.
think it is important to be in a league that has professionalism, first
and foremost, along with sportsmanship and provides an atmosphere that
is conducive to the fans," Hayes said.
The former Express, which averaged 850 fans per home date in 2012, weren't a big hit in C.B.
"We had great fans and sponsors," Lindgren said, "just not enough of them."
move brings the end to a successful run by the Council Bluffs
organization. The franchise, founded in 2000 by Jake Hiffernan, reached a
championship level from a modest beginning.
team started in the recreational Nebraska Indoor Football League as the
Council Bluffs Rams, playing with football equipment purchased by
Hiffernan, then 24, with his first credit card.
games were played indoors in Lincoln for two years before moving to an
outdoor eight-man field in Malcolm, Neb. The team, which changed its
name to the River City Redemption, won the NIFL title in 2003 and was
invited to play an indoor exhibition game against the APFL champion
Council Bluffs franchise, which later became the Iowa Blackhawks, was
competitive enough that it was invited to join the APFL in 2004. It has
played in that indoor professional league ever since.
won back-to-back APFL championships in 2009 and 2010. The Blackhawks,
who became the Express prior to last season, have been the league's
runner-up to Sioux City for the past two years.
financial concerns, Hiffernan sold the team in 2011 to local
businessman John Jerkovich in an attempt to keep it in C.B. Lindgren and
Hayes purchased the franchise and changed its name this year.
recent owners were actually exploring the possibility of starting an
expansion franchise in Lincoln prior to last season. Their plan changed
when Jerkovich offered the Blackhawks to them instead.