Indoor football back in La Crosse - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Indoor football back in La Crosse


LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- Gilbert Brown, Packer hall-of-famer and Super Bowl champion, now heads the coaching staff for La Crosse's newest football team, the Spartans.

"We're excited about it," says Chris Kokalis, co-owner and general manager of the La Crosse Spartans.

It's part of the Indoor Football League, or IFL.

La Crosse last hosted a team in 2003. The La Crosse Night Train played for two seasons before the team folded.

"Years ago, I was a season-ticket holder," Mike Berra says.  "I'm excited about the possibility of having indoor football back here."

Owners Mike Kokalis and Bob Sullivan say they just need to close a deal with the La Crosse Center before plans for the franchise are finalized.

If the plans go through and the team plays at the arena, then try-outs will start in September, and Brown says he expects big things out of the players.

"I'm gonna be doing everything I can to get them ready," says Gilbert Brown, Spartans head coach.  "If I gotta put on some pads and beat up on my offensive line, that's what I got to do."

But first, the owners need to convince the city and La Crosse Center board that having a team is a worthwhile decision.

Kokalis says the success of La Crosse Loggers of the Northwoods Baseball League is a good representation of sports fans in the area.

"You look at the success with the Loggers, 3500 fans a game," Kokalis says.  "This is football, and that's baseball, but I think you've got a great facility that we hope to have a long-term relationship with."

He also says they want the team to be a long-term part of the La Crosse community.

But with two indoor football teams having come and gone, will fans show up?

"The Night Train, out of this building, averaged 4300 fans a game," Kokalis says.  "I think that right there is a strong indicator of the interest for indoor football in the state of Wisconsin."

Kokalis hopes for 3- to 4000 fans in these seats each game.

It may not be Lambeau Field, but the Spartans might fill the football void during the offseason.

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