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Indoor football league introduces new franchise in a Buffalo Blitz

A new football franchise is coming to Buffalo that is going to be played indoors and on turf, with games its sponsors promise will be both faster paced and higher scoring than conventional football.

The Buffalo Blitz are the newest team in the Can-Am Indoor Football League, which already has franchises in Burlington, Vt., Cleveland, Rochester and Niagara Falls, Ont. The Blitz's home games will be played at the Buffalo RiverWorks,  it was announced Wednesday at the Ganson Street sports and entertainment complex.

"We're going to be bringing you some tremendous football back to Buffalo, N.Y.," said John Augustine who, along with partner, Bob Guenther, are principal owners of the franchise.

Augustine, a business teacher and coach at Lafayette High School, and Guenther, a grocery store and pizzeria owner, both have had long careers in semi-professional football in Buffalo. Guenther was the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Gladiators of the Northeastern Football Alliance, a team that Augustine quarterbacked for 20 years.

Augustine also played in the European Professional Football League and holds virtually every Minor-Professional Football League passing record, while Guenther was a standout quarterback in high school and college.

"This is a storied day for Buffalo," said Lawrence Fisher, Can-Am Indoor Football League commissioner, during Wednesday's news conference announcing the new franchise.

"We're growing rapidly, and in doing so, John and Bob put up the $500,000 bond for what we're trying to do with the league. At the same time, this is a growth opportunity for football in the Buffalo area and this facility," Fisher added.

The indoor football game will have rules that vary slightly from those adhered to in the National Football League. The uniforms will be sleeker and the field, a lot smaller, only 55 yards. The first kickoff is set for March 17, though the first home game at the RiverWorks is set for 2 p.m. April 8. The general ticket price will be $10, and VIP tickets will be set at $25.

"During the game we're going to entertain you not only on the field, but we're going to bring in VIP celebrity guests, such as WWE superstars Honky Tonk Man, Coco Beware, a lot of wrestlers and some ex-Buffalo Bills," said Augustine.

He said the new franchise already has its sights set on some local talent.

"And we're accepting applications from all over the country and Canada. We have about 65 guys right now that have shown interest and that we preliminarily signed," Augustine said.

An open tryout will be held at the ADPRO Sports Training Center next to New Era Field Sunday from 1-3 p.m. For more information call 444-7716.






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