On-field success leads to brighter business future for Arizona Rattlers arena football team - East Valley Tribune: Sports

On-field success leads to brighter business future for Arizona Rattlers arena football team

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Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2013 12:15 pm | Updated: 11:00 am, Sat Apr 13, 2013.

The Arizona Rattlers are bringing more than just championships to the Valley.

The 2012 Arena Bowl champions are seeing increased interests in tickets as the new season gets underway.

Joe Windham, the organization’s chief operating officer, said he sees a 25 percent increase in season ticket sales this coming season compared to the past season.

Windham said funding the Rattlers is equivalent to about one-tenth of what it costs to operate a team in the National Football League, and about one-fourth the cost of a National Basketball Association team. But what might not be apparent are all the costs necessary for a successful arena-football season.

“There’s pretty much everything. We have game day staff, we have to pay for the arena, the security and then travel expenses with airfare and insurance,” Windham said.

The Rattlers are continuing to invest more this coming year, not because of the championship but because they’re still trying to grow as a team, said Windham.

The Arena Football League is the highest level of professional indoor American football. The AFL consists of 14 teams, divided into two conferences – the American and the National Conference. The Rattlers were founded in 1992 and are led by arena football Hall of Fame head coach Kevin Guy.

The Rattlers have the AFL’s third-longest tenure in one city. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he is proud of the progress the Rattlers have made.

“The City of Phoenix is a world championship city, and the most successful professional [sports] franchise in our city is the Rattlers,” said Ron Shurts, CEO of the three-time Arena Bowl championship franchise.

Shurts, entering his second season with the Rattlers, co-founded The Annexus Group, a multi-billion dollar financial company, and has been a Rattlers season ticket holder since the teams’ inaugural season in 1992.

The organization has about 40 full-time employees who work year-round. In the offseason, the Rattlers organization and players sponsor and participate in multiple community-service events.

“I’ve seen them out in the community all the time at various community events supporting non-profits, kids in need etc. We love the availability of these awesome players,” Stanton said. “We know the players on this team love this sport, they love their fans, they love the city and they’re not doing it for the money.”

Players make an average of $3,500 a month plus a compensation package that covers their food, airfare and housing during training camps and games.

In 2012, the Rattlers won 16 games in the regular season – a league record for most wins in a single season.

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