"It has been three years since the last indoor football game," General Manager of the Carolina Predators, Benjamin Pippen, said at the Carolina Predators press conference last week. "We are now bringing in a new arena football team, the Carolina Predators."
One of three Predators team owners, Ralph Byrd, is thankful to have a permanent home for the Carolina Predators to play in and feels the team will help unify the community.
"For three years, we were a travel team up and down East Coast," Byrd said. Fayetteville is a great place, a great city, for football. Wins and losses. We are not just about winning the football game. Some of the coaches have played and coached here when there was an arena team years ago. It is not just about football games; it is about bringing everyone together."
Byrd, an athletic trainer, is not just an owner; he is now a general manager for the Carolina Predators.
"I took care of these guys, and now I am going to take care of them on another level. I appreciate Fayetteville for having us – that's the big thing."
Byrd says he bought the team and brought it to Fayetteville to allow another generation the opportunity to play.
"Playing has done great things for us. We couldn't play anymore. It was something we decided to do. We wanted to give the younger guys the ability to play football. It was reaching out to different arenas in various cities, and Fayetteville had a very warm and inviting arena. The atmosphere brought us here," he said.
The team has big plans for their first game and hopes the events will be accessible and affordable.
"We will have a tailgate, especially for the first game," Byrd said. "A formal meet & greet with coaches, players and staff. Tickets will be $10 to $15. We are not here to make money. We want to provide a family-friendly atmosphere in which kids can meet professional football players."
The Head Coach, Charles Givens, saw this announcement as a great belated Christmas gift, announcing the Predators are coming not just to Fayetteville but specifically back at the Crown Coliseum.
"When I walked in, I felt chills. I've played here. I have coached here. I played for the Cape Fear Wildcats in 2001," he said.
Givens explained that he is bringing "a championship coaching staff and championship football team" to support the Predators.
This championship staff includes Jon Hall, who has been coaching since 2015. Hall won Offensive Coach of the Year in 2016 and has called Fayetteville home since 2012. In the past, he also played for the Wildcats. Offensive Coordinator, Shawn Wood, is also happy to be here at the Crown.
"Thanks for allowing us to be a part of Cumberland County. We bring exciting football here and an electric offense. You are going to see a lot of fireworks from this team," Wood told attendees at the press conference.
Team tryouts will be held at an undecided location on Jan. 15.
These men, who are bringing the Carolina Predators to Fayetteville, are long-time teammates and colleagues. They have played and coached together at different times in their lives. They plan to utilize that long-standing team dynamic to bring quality and skilled sports entertainment to the Fayetteville community.
Spectators and athletes can find up-to-date information about tryouts and the team's upcoming schedule on the team's Facebook page, Carolina Predators Arena Football Team. The first game will be on March 26, in Mississippi. The first home game will be on April 10.