By John L. Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The prospects for a new indoor pro football team in Tupelo appear unaffected by news that the league planning to play here, the UIFL, was sold last week.
The Ultimate Indoor Football League, which played its first season this past winter, was sold by co-founders Andrew Haines and Michael Taylor. No terms were disclosed at the time of the sale’s announcement last Thursday.
The new owner, Assured Equities IV Corporation, is controlled by Georgia businessman Cecil VanDyke, who is also the owner of two of the current five UIFL franchises, in West Virginia and Kentucky.
The UIFL announced plans last week to expand into several new markets, including Tupelo. Haines, representing the league, signed a lease agreement with BancorpSouth Arena to begin play in March.
Those plans remain in effect.
“Our agreement for 2012 is with the league,” said BCS Arena general manager Todd Hunt. “So while the ownership of the league may have changed we still expect to have a team in place for the upcoming season.”
What remains unclear is the ownership of the notional Tupelo UIFL franchise. It appears at this point to be unrelated to the idled Mississippi MudCats team, owned by Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, that played here in 2007-08.
“We still have every intention of having a team” in Tupelo,” league co-founder Andrew Haines said on Tuesday. He remains as the UIFL president under the new ownership.
“Really nothing has changed in the day-to-day operation of the league, we just have more financial backing,” Haines said.
More details about the league’s plan for Tupelo are expected this summer. The UIFL season begins in March.
The UIFL is at least the fifth minor-league sports league founded with the involvement of Haines and Taylor. Their previous football league, the AIFL, was founded in 2005 – the MudCats were in the league for both of their seasons – and ceased operations in January.
According to information from Bloomberg Businessweek and similar financial sources, Seattle-based Assured Equities – described as a “Form 10 shell company” – was purchased by Georgia-based Rogue Diva Racing, Inc. for $25,000 on June 25, 2010. Rogue Diva was founded earlier last year.
Rogue Diva president VanDyke was listed as the president, secretary and treasurer of Assured Equities IV.
Contact John L. Pitts at 678-1522