As most fans of the NAL, I was excited to see the notifications start popping up again about the Orlando Predators returning to the sport. The Preds have a diehard fan base and a great history, two things that are necessary for success with all the competing leagues.
Things seem to be going just fine as well. There are official social media pages and phone numbers, even tryouts scheduled. Everything seems to be on track.
Except, you know, the team actually being announced.
No official word has been made regarding this franchise. No league statements. No local media coverage. Posts and rumors place the team in the NAL and there's a nice logo-sized hole on the front page of the league website. But the best there is on official communication is the occasional deflection from an owner or league officials' personal social media profile saying to be patient and relax.
Well for anyone who has ever had the displeasure of telling someone to calm down, doing it on Facebook isn't much better. Fans are complaining about not being able to get tickets yet and for a while a major rumor circulated about how the team would actually be called a different Arnold Schwarzenegger movie title. Most recently, somebody created a fake league page to talk about how the Predators were going back to the AFL because things were taking so long.
While reactions were mixed, it was some collegiate-level satire that might have been too good. One of the comments actually said "why not take it as fact since nothing better has come out?"
If you are working with the Predators or the NAL, that statement needs to be taken seriously. On its own the comment can be disregarded, but it cannot as an identifier of a trend.
Obviously creating an expansion franchise is difficult and I don't want to discredit the work of people working to bring back indoor football to Orlando. But there are still concerns with Amway Center hosting the team again, meaning it would be difficult to get the team any home games and impact the league schedule. The intellectual protection to get that name and logo wasn't filed until already late in the offseason. No staff of any kind have been officially announced.
Let's also circle back to the league schedule for a little bit. There are still many concerns about Lehigh Valley returning after their winless season as their search for a new owner continues. That and continued discussion about the return of the Nashville Kats are leaving fans to wonder the amount of teams in the league for 2019.
Even when the Orlando Predators do announce their franchise officially, there are many concerns about how it will be done. The team is already the worst kept secret in football and makes the social media mishaps regarding the NY Streets or last season with the Massachusetts Pirates look professional. And if the press conference is anything like the way it was in New York, a lot of people will doubt the seriousness the league will take on the issue.
If you look back at the last three paragraphs, you see a negative trend for three separate issues: the current situation in Orlando is faceless and unaccounted for, the struggles the NAL face this offseason impacting other franchises and the concerns of the NAL to establish and maintain their branding and press relations.
Ultimately, all these issues can be dealt with by having the team take the field and do well. There are a couple months before that first snap, but right now uncertainty and rumormongering leads the way for the Orlando Predators. The NAL needs to step up and wow the indoor football community and the Orlando market when they officially come back.