New arena football team coming to El Paso

Local Sports

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Some consider football to be the backbone of the great State of Texas, and the Sun City is getting a new team.

The El Paso Sports Commission and the El Paso County Coliseum, in conjunction with the County of El Paso, announced the addition of the West Texas Buccaneers to the American Arena League on Friday. The team will play its games at the County Coliseum beginning in 2021.

The West Texas Buccaneers are a brand-new arena/indoor football team, which will be playing in a new yet-to-be-named division made up of new teams in Texas.  New teams in the Lone Star State include Allen, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.   

Owner Craig Thomas is hopeful the team can compete immediately and is putting together a quality roster of mostly-local players.

“If I can build a good team with good chemistry like the guys that came to the first tryouts, I guarantee with the talent I’ve seen, I can build a good team,” said Thomas.

Former Bel Air star Andrew Chaffino has committed to playing for the team and the running back/wide receiver likes what he has seen so far.

“This is a new team and a different season. Our goal is to make it to the top. We’re gonna take it step by step, every game, every play,” said Chaffino.

Exhibition/Preseason games are scheduled for Saturday, November 21 and Saturday, December 12. The regular season will begin in March, 2021. Ticket and spectator information will be announced at a later date.

2021 will be the fifth year of action for the American Arena League. In 2020, for the second consecutive year the AAL was the largest professional arena league in the US.

The AAL has averaged over 40 players annually with NFL ties. Players include former Super Bowl starters and All Pro players. In addition, team rosters generally consist of former D1 players and All Americans.

The Mission Statement of the AAL is simple; “Provide affordable family entertainment in communities so that “Having Fun” is contagious while showcasing professional football players.”  

About the American Arena League (AAL)

In 2016, the Arena Pro Football League was founded by its CEO, Tony Zefiretto, and Emeritus League President, Jack Bowman. Zefiretto is a former college coach, executive in arena football and arena coach. His experience also includes team executive in major league baseball and as a Vice President and General Manager in minor league baseball. Bowman was a long-time successful coach, General Manager and League Executive in arena football. Both are in the Minor League Football Hall of Fame.

​Due to the success of the APF, at the conclusion of its inaugural season, teams from three other leagues decided to join their ranks. That consolidation prompted the league to change its name to the American Arena League (AAL).

The two executives initially discussed the concept in 2003, when Bowman was GM of the Myrtle Beach Stingrays Arena Football team and Zefiretto served as Senior Director for the former Atlanta Braves affiliate in Myrtle Beach. These two founders were determined to create a business model similar to the one utilized in minor-league baseball. “We want to bring fun and affordable family entertainment to smaller cities,” said Zefiretto. “Our expectation is that AAL teams are committed to their communities. fans, sponsors and today’s youth.”

​NFL Hall of Fame Committee Member Ira Kaufman – “The AAL has quickly grown into the largest professional arena league in the United States. The league is considering an AAL2 division and a division for “Affiliated Teams”.  These divisions would serve teams who anticipate transitioning into professional arena football.

To ensure long-term viability, the league founders enlisted a staff of high-quality individuals with years of successful experience in professional sports and within the business world. The staff serves a resource for owners. The league also created a branding opportunity for its members. Each team can now sell their apparel in local Walmart stores.

AAL CEO, Tony Zefiretto, has instilled a “fans come first” culture, mandating everyone in the organization to deliver a superb experience. “With former NFL, D1 and All-American players, our goal is to put the highest quality product on the field for our fans to enjoy at an affordable price.”  To help provide the ultimate fan experience, at the conclusion of each game, fans are invited onto the field to meet the players, take pictures, and obtain autographs. “It’s what makes us different” says Zefiretto.  

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