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Toledo Crush lose, but league owner optimistic

07/12/2014, 12:24am EDT
By DONALD EMMONS BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo Crush lose in 2nd game

The Toledo Crush played its second and final home game of the season on Friday at the Huntington Center.

The meeting between the Crush and the Atlanta Steam drew a slightly larger turnout than what showed up a few weeks ago, when the Legends Football League made its debut in the Glass City.

An estimated crowd of 800 fans watched the Steam defeat Toledo 40-13. The Crush fell to 0-2, while the Steam improved to 2-0.

Among those in attendance was LFL owner Mitch Mortaza.

The Las Vegas entrepreneur shared a few thoughts about the league, including the Crush's move from Cleveland to Toledo.

“Our business model wasn't great in Cleveland with Quicken Loans,” he said, regarding the Crush’s previous home site. “That is a very expensive building.

“You can't have the kind of patience you have here. When you're losing your shirt every game, considerably, either you accelerate the model to turn it into profitability, or you look for alternatives.

“We think Toledo is positioned well. I think, eventually, we're going to have a lot of Cleveland fans making the drive over on the weekends to come out to these games.”

Besides considering the Huntington Center a good venue to play indoor football on a 50-yard artificial surface field, Mortaza looked at Toledo as an ideal spot for the Crush because of the long-standing fan support for the Mud Hens and Walleye.

“Toledo, I think is a great sports town,” he said. “It's a matter of building a franchise here. How long have the Walleye been here? How long have the Mud Hens been here?

“We've had so much success elsewhere, they expect it to happen everywhere, and that's not the case.”

Mortaza said increasing the fan base will occur as more people in the area become aware of the team. He thinks the support will grow after the team has been in Toledo for “two to three” years. He also believes the Crush’s fan following will grow by filling the roster with more players from the area. The current roster is made up of players from five states. Five of the 17 players are from northwest Ohio or southeast Michigan, including quarterback Arika Hoffman of Liberty Center.

“What’s missing is we don’t have a team that’s truly a local team,” Mortaza said. “That’s the first thing we're going to change. I think that will change things immensely, and just time and people talking about it and wearing [Crush] hats around town.

“You want to give it at least three seasons. At the end of that, you figure out where you are.”

The LFL, formerly named the Lingerie Football League, began in 2009. It aired nationally for a couple of seasons on MTV.

He said a deal has been made with a television network to televise games during the 2015 season, with an announcement later this year.

In addition to airing games, he said there's a plan for a reality TV series he believes will help promote the league.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.

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