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DESTROYERS SET TO DEPLOY FOR '99 SEASON

The Buffalo Destroyers are coming to an arena near you.

The Arena Football League's newest franchise unveiled its team name, colors, uniform styles and logos to Western New York Friday night during a gala celebration at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The uniform is a combination of navy blue and silver with a royal blue and red trim. The logo is a menacing buffalo with its head sticking through a porthole.

The design was a collaboration of team owner Mark Hamister, head coach and vice president of football operations Dave Whinham, corporate vice president Lisa Driscoll and SME Design of New York City.

They came up with the team name, colors and logo from entries of the "Name The Team Contest" and various surveys the organization sponsored after Buffalo was awarded the franchise last year.

The team name is a direct tie to the naval destroyer anchored at the Buffalo Naval and Servicemen's Park just outside Marine Midland Arena.

"Exuberation isn't even a good enough word for this," said Hamister, chairman and chief executive officer of Buffalo Sports Enterprise, the management arm of the Destroyers.

"I'm delighted with the name, I'm in awe of the image. It fits everything our town said they wanted in our team -- tough, aggressive and assertive. The uniforms are professional and world class all the way and that's what you can expect from this organization."

"I think we have come up with an image Western New York is going to be proud to support," Whinham added. "I know I'm going to be proud to lead a team wearing those colors."

If the Destroyers play football the way the organization puts on a party, the team should be an immediate hit.

More than 1,500 people, including several public dignitaries, attended Friday's festivities. In addition to the unveiling, partygoers were treated to good food, the California Fantasy Cheerleaders and Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductees Jefferson Starship.

"Going to an arena football game is like being at a party, so we wanted to give people a taste of what they are going to get next year," Whinham said.

Also on hand was AFL commissioner David Baker. Buffalo was voted in unanimously by the AFL after Hamister made his presentation last year.

After surveying the Friday's event, Baker understands why.

"It is very impressive what they have done in such a short period of time," he said. "Mark Hamister is a great owner and he has developed an outstanding organization and the team will play in a great arena (MMA).

"Buffalo loves football, so this team and this city couldn't be a better match. I also think it's a great compliment to the Buffalo Bills that our board of directors thought this was a great football town. We don't ever expect to compete with the NFL, but beauty of it is while the NFL plays between the fall and winter, we play in the spring and summer. It's a great opportunity for fans to be involved in football the year round."

Baker believes the Destroyers can be a winner right away. The AFL had two expansion teams -- the New Jersey Red Dogs and Nashville Kats -- make the playoffs last year in their initial season.

Buffalo is the 15th AFL franchise. Baker expects to add two more teams by the 1999 season.

"Everything is in place for Buffalo," Baker said. "They have all the ingredients to be successful in their first year."

But fans will have to wait. The Destroyers don't begin play until May 1999.

"That year is going to allow us to continue to make sure we've put everything together in a world class fashion for our fans, sponsors and the WNY community," Hamister said. "We're very excited about tonight, but we are looking forward to many more like this one in the future."
Deborah Domanski was the winner of the Name The Team Contest. Team officials chose her in a random drawing of 32 participants who entered the same name. Domanski received a check for $10,000 and two season tickets for the team's first two years. . . . ESPN and ESPN2 are scheduled to carry 16 regular-season games and four playoff contests. ArenaBowl XII will be broadcast live by ABC. . . . Season tickets, ranging from $42 to $189, are on sale at various outlets. The average single-game ticket is $18.81. For more information, call the Season Ticket Hotline at 881-5732.

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