An Empire is Unleashed in Albany
Albany AFL Reveals Team Brand
As if it were Christmas Day, the anticipation and excitement was palpable as the Albany AFL announced the team brand on Tuesday night at the Palace Theater. Season ticket holders and VIPs were invited to witness the unveiling of a new era in Albany’s Arena Football history. The big reveal was made in a video clip shortly after the presentation began. And the winner is…
The Albany Empire.
Over 11,000 fans voted on the Times Union’s website and the Empire was the clear winner: 44% of the those who voted chose the name over the other finalists: the Phoenix (21%), the Fire (20%), and the Machine (15%). Team colors are red-orange, dark blue, and white, suggestive of the City of Albany’s flag colors and the logo itself resembles a warrior mask melded with a football.
“We’ve done all the business stuff, we’ve done all of the hard lifting,” said team owner Ron Jaworski after the video reveal. “Now, this is where the fun starts.” (Jaws’ microphone cut out during his portion of the presentation, but that didn’t stop him from talking about the team.)
Two of the three local ownership partners, Ed Swyer and Dan Nolan, spoke at the reveal. Both expressed their excitement about the team brand as well as their commitment to the fans. “We are here to stay,” proclaimed Nolan. “This is not a ‘let’s try this out and see how we do.’ We are here to stay.”
Just as excited for the new brand reveal was head coach Rob Keefe, who got those in attendance as fired up as he was.
“When I say, ‘Go,’ you say ‘Empire!’ GO!”
“EMPIRE!” the crowd shouted back.
With the team brand finally being revealed, the coaching staff can concentrate on putting together a team to field. Close to 300 athletes will converge on the SportsPlex of Halfmoon on Saturday with the hope that their dreams of playing professional football will come true. Regardless of who will be on the field come April 14th, one thing is certain: An Empire was born tonight.
Following the presentation, I had the chance to talk to all three coaches and asked them about what’s ahead from now through opening night.
Q. Now that the team identity has finally been revealed, what does the Capital District see between now opening night on April 14?
Head coach Rob Keefe: “We have a team name, we have a logo, you’ll start seeing a helmet and jersey concept start to come out, you’ll see a schedule come out… I think now that it’s tangible, people can actually see it, they can feel it, and they want to be a part of it.”
Defensive coordinator Les Moss: “We’re going to concentrate on putting the players together and putting a great team together.”
Offensive coordinator Chris Thompson: “The name is a home run with the Empire State and what the ownership’s vision is of this football franchise, not only being good on the field, but also being heavily involved in the community.”
Q. Did you know about the name before it was revealed and if so, how hard was it for you from revealing it?
Keefe: “I’m proud of it and I think when you’re proud of something, it’s hard to keep a secret that way. But for us, I think it (the reveal) was done classy, I think it was done the exact way it needed to be and what an awesome unveiling at the Palace Theater tonight.”
Moss: “I found out very recently and I didn’t know about the logo until on the way to the Palace… I think it’s a great name.”
Thompson: “It’s been a culmination of a few weeks of keeping it in! It’s finally nice to have the cat out of the hat. It’s nice to be able to say it and be proud of the logo.”
Other Odds and Ends: During the presentation, VP of Operations George Manias talked about the corporate sponsorship; local health insurance company CDPHP was made known as the sponsor of the inaugural season. Manias also mentioned that other corporate partnerships would be announced in the coming weeks... Jaworski informed the crowd that there will be a twelve-game schedule with the home opener on April 14 at 7pm against league champion Philadelphia… Town Square Media was announced as the broadcast partner; all twelve games will be simulcast on WQSH Rewind 105.7 FM.
Ryan McCarthy has been an on-and-off Internet columnist and blogger since 1997. He has been an avid follower of Arena Football since 1990 when the Albany Firebirds were established. Ryan currently attends Regent University, where he is pursuing his Bachelors degree in Communications with a Journalism concentration. He anticipates graduating toward the end of 2019. You can follow Ryan on Twitter at @rwhoisryanmcc