Nighthawks Returning as Indoor Team

The Wichita Falls Nighthawks announced Thursday the team has been sold and will reform in 2015 as an indoor football team.

Native Wichitan Drew Carnes and his wife Teri Marie are the new owners of the team. They said they have been fans of the team since it was started in 2013 and are excited to continue the work the Nighthawks have done in the community.

"We'd gotten involved with the Nighthawks, loved what they'd done for the community, and loved what they stand for," Drew Carnes said after the introductory news conference. "After we saw the season end the way it did, we just felt led to see what we could do, and this idea developed."

He said the decision was made fairly quickly, with the entire process taking no more than about four or five weeks.

The team plans to play its games at the

Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls and while they haven't yet reached a final deal with the City of Wichita Falls, Carnes said he believes it will definitely get done.

He also said he wasn't sure yet which league the team will join. The Lone Star Football League announced plans Thursday to merge with the Champions Professional Football League, which operates mostly out of the midwest, but Carnes said he had reservations about the stability of that combined league.

"We're not going to skimp on anything there," he said. "We're not going to make a decision because a league happens to be close, or a league happens to be convenient. We are going to bring the best league to Wichita Falls that this market will support."

One league Carnes suggested he was interested in was the Indoor Football League (IFL), which is generally recognized as the second-highest profile indoor football league in the US, behind the Arena Football League (AFL).

"We're going to focus on the most stable league," Carnes said. "We're going to focus on the best compensation for the players, because we want the best players to come to our city. And we're going to focus on the highest level of stable competition that we can bring to Wichita Falls."

Whichever league the team joins, the season will probably start around mid-to-late February, shortly after the Super Bowl.

Former Nighthawks owners Jerry and Michelle Hughes were present at the announcement Thursday morning, and Jerry said while the Carnes were graceful enough to offer he and his wife positions within the team, they had decided not to pursue them. Despite the financial hardships the Hughes faced running the team alone this year, Jerry said he felt it was worth it to see the team continue.

"We felt the Lord hold us here for another year to continue the Nighthawks," Hughes said. "And I'm telling you right now, I now see why. While it may have faltered at the end, this would not be happening today if we hadn't taken on that season."

Carnes said any and all former Nighthawk players will be invited to try out for the new team, with tryouts tentatively scheduled for late September or early October and again in late January. He said he will not be involved in player-personnel decisions, leaving that up to the coach after one is hired.