Kent Predators full of changes for 2011 Indoor Football League season

Change is the name of the game as the Kent Predators prepare for their second season in the professional Indoor Football League at the ShoWare Center. The Predators have a new general manager, coach, a bunch of new players and plan to reveal new uniforms when they open the 2011 season with a home game Feb. 25 against Sioux Falls, S.D.

Michael Tuckman

Michael Tuckman

Change is the name of the game as the Kent Predators prepare for their second season in the professional Indoor Football League at the ShoWare Center.

The Predators have a new general manager, coach, a bunch of new players and plan to reveal new uniforms when they open the 2011 season with a home game Feb. 25 against Sioux Falls, S.D.

They’re expected to have a new owner as well.

“Our slogan is a brand new look and a brand new attitude but it’s still show time at the ShoWare,” said president Michael Tuckman, who also plans to buy the Predators.

Tuckman, of Seattle, along with his partners from West Coast Sports, are in negotiations to buy the team from Ken Moninski and Chris Kokalis. Tuckman, under the name of West Coast Sports, has owned a variety of minor league basketball teams over the last several years. He tried unsuccessfully to get an IFL team in Everett two years ago. Tuckman also is president and general manager of KPSTTV, based out of Redmond.

“We have not finalized an agreement yet with West Coast Sports,” Moninski said in a voicemail, left in response to phoned-in questions to the Kent Reporter.

The Predators announced many of the upcoming changes Nov. 18, during a press conference at the ShoWare Center.

Jamie Perry, Kent City Council president, kicked off the media event with a welcome back to the Predators.

“I don’t think I really can express how excited we are to have the Predators back for another year,” Perry told the small crowd gathered in the ShoWare lounge area to watch the press conference. “There are a lot of new additions and we look forward to a great season.”

The Predators finished the 2010 season with a 5-9 record. They were fourth out of five teams in the Pacific North Division and failed to make the 16-team playoffs in the 24-team league.

The Predators drew an average of about 2,000 fans per game at the city-owned ShoWare Center. They played seven home games from March through June at the 6,000-seat arena. They will play seven games next season as well.

The IFL, based in Richmond, Va., was created in 2008 with the merger of the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football. Players are paid $225 per game.

Kokalis told the Kent Reporter in June that he and Moninski lost “a lot of money” the first year. Moninski said they were looking for additional investors.

Tuckman plans to turn the Predators into a championship team.

Kent hired Heron O’Neal, the former Billings Outlaws coach, as the new coach. O’Neal became available after the Billings team folded in early October. O’Neal coached the Outlaws to the 2009 and 2010 IFL titles.

“This guy is going to take us to the next level,” Tuckman said. “We knew we wanted to improve from 5-9 and not just make the playoffs. We put money into this organization to win the championship.”

O’Neal already has signed eight former Billings players, including star receiver James Walton. Quarterback Charles McCullum and defensive end John Fields are the top players back from last year’s Kent team.

“I don’t like losing,” O’Neal said. “My first year at Billings we were 16-1 and won the championship. The year before Billings was 4-10.”

O’Neal said he wants to continue the championship streak in Kent that he started in Billings.

“I want this season to be a three-peat for me and the players I’m bringing from Billings,” he said.

Tuckman announced that Jim Granacker has been hired as general manager. Granacker had been the director of operations for the Predators. Tuckman planned to hire Adam Steadman as general manager, the same position he held in Billings. But Tuckman said Steadman decided he did not want to move his family from Montana.

With all of the changes, the Predators hope to draw as many as 5,000 to 6,000 fans per game next season. The Predators recently bought ad time on KIRO-TV in an effort to make the Seattle area more aware of the team.

“There is a fan base here waiting to support a winner,” O’Neal said. “That’s what I’ll bring to the city of Kent.”

Tuckman said the team has 300 season ticket holders, enough to make it worth the investment to keep the Predators in town.

“The 300 season ticket holders are the reason we’re here,” Tuckman said. “If we did not have those we would not come back.”

Season ticket prices range from $96 to $252.

For season tickets and more information, go to www.kentpredators.com.


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