Semipro football coming to Eastern Panhandle

January 08, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - Coming to a field near you: semipro football.

Ranson City officials and owners of a three-year-old semipro football team that has been playing in Berryville, Va., worked on details Monday night to allow the team to begin playing at the Charles C. Marcus Field behind The Marketplace at Potomac Towne Center along the Charles Town Bypass in Ranson.

The Valley Tigers have been playing their games at Clarke County High School in Berryville but were forced to look for a new field because increased use of the Berryville facility by other sports programs, said Anthony Burgess, owner and chief executive officer of the team.

Team officials were looking for a field when they happened to meet people in Ranson who told them about the newly completed Charles C. Marcus Field, said Diana Simmons. business manager for The Valley Tigers.


The Charles C. Marcus Field, behind the Weis Markets store, opened last year to give Jefferson County Youth Football and Cheerleaders a new facility for their programs.

The local youth football season is held in the fall and the Valley Tigers' season will run March 1 to July 1, Simmons said.

Ranson city officials have been encouraged by the idea, and the city and the football team are in the process of working out an agreement to let the Valley Tigers play at the local field.

Team officials and Ranson Parks and Recreation members worked on their agreement Monday night at the field's offices.

The team plans to have its upcoming season at Charles C. Marcus Field and expects to have its opening game March 29 against the Baltimore-based Maryland Bulls at the local field, team officials said.

Ten games are on this year's schedule and five will be played at the local field, Simmons said.

Simmons declined to comment on any financial issues in the agreement between the city and the team, but did say that the team will work with the city on any reseeding needs at the field and would be willing to work with the city on possibly installing an artificial turf on the field.

Ranson Parks and Recreation members praised the agreement Monday night.

"We would like to welcome you to our community," said parks and recreation chairman Duke Pierson.

Jimmy Pierson, spokesman for Jefferson County Youth Football, said Monday night he anticipates a significant benefit for Ranson with the arrival of the Tigers.

Players will be bringing friends and family members to Ranson for the games and could be spending as much as $100 a visit at restaurants in and around The Marketplace at Potomac Towne Center, Pierson said.

"It's going to be an economic impact to this mall," Pierson said.

Pete Dougherty, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, was at the meeting and said he was there to work out a possible arrangement to have local school bands perform at Tigers games.

The Valley Tigers is a nonprofit team that has been based in the Shenandoah Valley, according to the team's Web site.

The team, which has about 50 members, is for adults 18 and older, and members have the opportunity to advance to the Canadian Football League, arena football and other leagues, Burgess said.

There are more than 2,000 semipro teams in the country, Burgess said.

"We are more than a football squad; we are a team hoping to generate productive citizens. Our Mission is to provide a strong, community based program that will provide a fun, affordable venue for football fans to watch local athletes showcase their talents," the team's Web site said.

The Web site said the team plays by NFL rules but "without the NFL cost."

The public is welcome to watch the games. Admission costs $5 and children younger than 12 are admitted free, team officials said.

Attendance at previous games has been around 500 and there will be seating for 1,200 to 1,600 at the Ranson field, Simmons said.

Valley Tigers schedule

March 15: Valley Tigers vs. Frederick Outlaws, TBA

March 22: Valley Tigers vs. Atlantic Coast Patriots, TBA

March 29: Valley Tigers vs. Maryland Bulls at Ranson, 1 p.m.

April 5: Valley Tigers vs. P.G. County Knights, TBA

April 12: Valley Tigers vs. Carroll County Cannons at Ranson, 1 p.m.

April 26: Valley Tigers vs. Atlantic Coast Patriots at Ranson, 1 p.m.

May 3: Valley Tigers vs. Maryland Bulls, TBA

May 10: Valley Tigers vs. Maryland Phoenix at Ranson, 1 p.m.

May 17: Valley Tigers vs. Frederick Outlaws at Ranson, 1 p.m.

May 24: Valley Tigers vs. Carroll County Cannons, TBA

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