George Manias won’t be part of a possible arena football return to Albany.
Manias, who was president and CEO of the Albany Empire of the now-defunct Arena Football League, announced in a press release Friday that he won’t be part of the group that is looking to place a National Arena League team at Times Union Center next year.
Manias, who is the chief revenue officer for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A minor league farm team of the New York Yankees, said in his press release that he was contacted by the NAL league offices and the Orlando Predators ownership group. The Predators ownership group is looking to have a team in Albany.
Both parties met to explore the possibility of Manias joining the group and operating the team.
“After meeting with the NAL commissioner and the Orlando Predators ownership group and doing my due diligence, I have decided not to join them in their efforts to bring an NAL team to the Capital Region for the 2021 season for several reasons,” Manias said. “For me, I don’t think the timing is right. With the ongoing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the sports landscape, I wouldn’t feel comfortable launching a team without knowing for sure if there in fact will be a season in 2021 and if so, if we could play games in front of fans at full capacity and without worrying about social distancing and our fans safety. There is too much uncertainty there for me.
“I also would not be comfortable asking for monetary support from sponsors and ticket buyers if they have been affected financially by this crisis. Lastly, since the demise of the AFL, I am not sure which league is the right fit for a team in Albany. Until the NAL and the IFL (Indoor Football League) work out their differences and their expansion markets are clearer, I am not sure which league makes the most sense, so I would prefer to see how all that shakes out first.
“We built something special with the Empire and if I were to come back and do this all over again, these concerns would need to be behind us first. I wish this group the best of luck and success. Albany deserves a team and I hope this works out and for the long haul.”
On Wednesday, a report from Spectrum News Orlando indicated that the Predators ownership group was interested in placing a team in Albany for 2021.
“We do not currently have a signed agreement, but we are getting close,” TU Center general manager Bob Belber said on Wednesday. “We expect to have some kind of formal announcement, assuming we get the deal done within the next week or 10 days.”
The Empire won the final ArenaBowl title last August.
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