Patrick+ Logo

Blog

Patrick+

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Axemen ready to set longevity record for Minnesota indoor football

The Bemidji Axemen have a chance to make history on the Minnesota sports scene. Best I can tell, if the Axemen make it to the start of a third season next February, they will be the state champions for longevity in professional indoor football.

The Minnesota Fighting Pike arrived in 1996 as a member of the Arena Football League, played at Target Center, went 4-10, and went out of business suddenly and with unhappy creditors.

There were also two franchises in the original Indoor Football League (which should not to be confused with another item in  Minnesota’s pro football history – the Original Whizzinator). They were the Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks, a team that lasted the two full seasons (1999-2000) of the original IFL, and the Minnesota Purple Rage, which played in Mankato in 2000.

Don’t hold me to this. For instance: It’s hard to believe Rochester has avoided an entrepreneur with a desire to lose money on indoor football.

The current Indoor Football League first played in 2009 after a merger of the Intense Football League and the United Indoor Football League (a k a, the Ultimate Football League). There have been 41 different franchises in seven seasons, including 10 this year.

The Axemen’s second ownership group – currently Roseau dentist Phil Sallberg and Bemidji business partners Nate Coffin and Dan Skaug – is firming up plans to be back at Bemjdi’s Sanford Center for the 2016 season.

The owners have hired Richard Davis, an indoor football and coaching veteran, to be the general manager and fourth head coach (including one interim) for the Axemen.

They are considering a name change, to Minnesota or Northwest Axemen, to create more of a regional appeal. Bemidji is the smallest city in the league with a population of 14,500.

“I used to be a Vikings’ season-ticket holder,’’ Sallberg said. “I starting going to indoor games in Bemidji as a fan. I fell in love with the non-stop action. I don’t have Vikings tickets anymore. If you ask me now, I say football was meant to be played on a small field in an arena, not in a big stadium.’’

PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK

Notes from Fighting Pike history:

*Art Haege left Iowa Barnstormers as an assistant to become Pike head coach. He went to one players’ tryout and sent a fax to owner Tom Scallen reading, “I’m going back to Iowa.’’

*The Pike were winless (0-7) at Target Center with Ray Jauch as coach.

*Frank Haege, Art’s son, served as Jauch’s defensive coordinator. Frank’s now headed into his 10th season as the coach of outdoor football at Augsburg.

Reusse: An indoor milestone for the Bemidji Axemen

The Bemidji Axemen have a chance to make history on the Minnesota sports scene. Best I can tell, if the Axemen make it to the start of a third season next February, they will be the state champions for longevity in professional indoor football.

The Minnesota Fighting Pike arrived in 1996 as a member of the Arena Football League, played at Target Center, went 4-10, and went out of business suddenly and with unhappy creditors.

There were also two franchises in the original Indoor Football League (which should not be confused with another item in Minnesota’s pro football history — the Original Whizzinator). They were the Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks, a team that lasted the two full seasons (1999-2000) of the original IFL, and the Minnesota Purple Rage, which played in Mankato in 2000.

Don’t hold me to this. For instance: It’s hard to believe Rochester has avoided an entrepreneur with a desire to lose money on indoor football.

The current Indoor Football League first played in 2009 after a merger of the Intense Football League and the United Indoor Football League (a k a, the Ultimate Football League). There have been 41 different franchises in seven seasons, including 10 this year.

The Axemen’s second ownership group — Roseau dentist Phil Sallberg and Bemidji business partners Nate Coffin and Dan Skaug — are firming up plans to be back at Bemidji’s Sanford Center for the 2016 season.

The owners have hired Richard Davis, an indoor football and coaching veteran, to be the general manager and fourth head coach (including one interim) for the Axemen.

They are considering a name change, to Minnesota or Northwest Axemen, to create more of a regional appeal. Bemidji is the smallest city in the league with a population of 14,500.

“I used to be a Vikings season-ticket holder,’’ Sallberg said. “I starting going to indoor games in Bemidji as a fan. I fell in love with the nonstop action. I don’t have Vikings tickets anymore. If you ask me now, I say football was meant to be played on a small field in an arena, not in a big stadium.’’

PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK

Notes from the history of the Minnesota Fighting Pike:

•â€¯Art Haege left the Iowa Barnstormers as an assistant to become Pike head coach. He went to one players’ tryout and sent a fax to owner Tom Scallen reading: “I’m going back to Iowa.’’

• The Pike were winless (0-7) at Target Center.

•  Frank Haege, Art’s son, served as coach Ray Jauch’s defensive coordinator. Frank is now headed into his 10th season as the coach of outdoor football at Augsburg.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Live racing

    12:45pm

  • Twins at Kansas City

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Fargo-Moorhead at Saints

    5:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Ottawa at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Baltimore at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Ottawa at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Baltimore at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Baltimore at Twins

    12:10pm on 96.3-FM

  • Ottawa at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Live racing

    6:30pm

  • Ottawa at Saints

    7:05pm on 1220-AM

  • Detroit at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Live racing

    6:30pm

  • Saints at Winnipeg

    7pm on 1220-AM

  • Detroit at Twins

    7:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lynx at Chicago

    7:30pm on 106.1-FM

  • Live racing

    12:45pm

  • Detroit at Twins

    3:05pm on FS1, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Winnipeg

    6pm on 105.1-FM

  • Ottawa at Minnesota United FC

    7pm on Ch. 45

  • Live racing

    12:45pm

  • Detroit at Twins

    1:10pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Saints at Winnipeg

    1:30pm on 1220-AM

  • San Antonio at Lynx

    6pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Tampa Bay

    NY Yankees

     

    - F

    8

    1

  • Toronto

    Detroit

     

    - F

    10

    5

  • Milwaukee

    Cincinnati

     

    - F

    6

    1

  • Philadelphia

    Atlanta

     

    - F

    4

    0

  • Houston

    Boston

     

    - F

    4

    5

  • Cleveland

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    3

    5

  • Baltimore

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    9

    1

  • Minnesota

    Kansas City

     

    - F

    2

    3

  • San Diego

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    1

    3

  • Miami

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    0

    2

  • Seattle

    Oakland

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • Colorado

    Arizona

     

    - F

    6

    4

  • NY Mets

    LA Dodgers

     

    - F

    8

    0

  • LA Angels

    Texas

     

    - F

    12

    6

  • San Francisco

    Washington

     

    - F

    1

    3