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Xplorers Achieve Mission, Taking Time Out

Wednesday October 11, 2006

Maddox Football, Inc, which owns and operates the Memphis Xplorers af2 arena football team, announced today that the Xplorers would not field a team for the 2007 season, which is scheduled to begin next April.

"We have achieved what we set out to do four years ago, and that is to lessen the burden on Desoto County by supporting the Desoto Civic Center in a way that benefits the long-term economic development of the community," said Robin G. Costa, President of Maddox Football, Inc.

The Xplorers, along with the RiverKings hockey team, were the anchor tenants for the Civic Center when it was originally constructed. When the teams were to be closed or moved in 2002, the Maddox Foundation stepped in to make program-related investments to purchase and operate the teams.

The RiverKings will begin their 15th season as scheduled.

The Maddox Sports Advisory Council, a group of local leaders who advise the franchises on issues of policy and marketing, reviewed all available information and made the recommendation not to operate the Xplorers next year. The Council has over a dozen members, including several key community leaders. "This is not a decision that we made without community input, and it affects only the operations of the Xplorers," Costa said. "We are looking forward to the 15th anniversary season of the RiverKings."

Chuck Roberts, Board President for the Desoto County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which operates the Desoto Civic Center, noted that over the last four years, revenues to the Civic Center from the County’s tourism tax have increased at a steady pace. "When the Maddox Foundation became involved with the purchase and operations of the sports teams, revenues to the DeSoto Civic Center from their games were a significant portion of our total arena rental revenue," Roberts said. "Due in part to the visibility of the sports teams, the Civic Center has also greatly expanded the number of events held annually in the facility."

A member of the Desoto County Board of Supervisors, Tommy Lewis, said "When the Desoto Civic Center absolutely had to have these teams to make ends meet, Robin Costa and the Maddox Foundation stepped up and made the investments that kept the teams in the arena. Now that revenues from the football team are no longer a significant part of our budget, it’s time to thank them for their work and move on."

Bill Austin, who served as county attorney during the development and construction of the Civic Center, noted that the investments by the Maddox Foundation in the sports teams have made a difference in the county. "We knew when we built the DeSoto Civic Center that having sports teams anchor the facility was critical to its initial success," Austin said. "But we also knew that, in time, the Civic Center would achieve a level of success that would make the teams a less important part of the facility’s budget."

Maddox Football, Inc. operated the Xplorers for four seasons, and despite three straight playoff seasons under Coach Danton Barto and an Arena Cup Championship last year, community support for the team did not appear to be growing. "While we have a very loyal fan base, it is not large enough to attract additional community sponsors," Costa said. "We want to thank those loyal fans and sponsors who have supported the Xplorers and particularly thank Danton Barto for his leadership and all the players for their hard work over the past several years."

Coach Barto has accepted the position of head coach with the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League. "While much of our success here is due to the hard work of our players and the support of our fans and sponsors, I also want to point out that it has been the unwavering support of Robin Costa and the Maddox Foundation that has allowed us to build this team into a championship franchise," Barto said.

Costa is also President of Maddox Foundation, a private foundation located in Hernando, Miss., that made program-related investments in 2002 to establish Maddox Football, Inc and Maddox Hockey, Inc., which owns and operates the Memphis RiverKings hockey team. Maddox Foundation has continued to invest in the operations of both teams over the past four years.