In Full Force: Arena Football Sweeps Gwinnett

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Franchise officials and Gwinnett business leaders are ready for the Arena Football League#s Georgia Force to take up residence in the county#s new state-of-the-art arena currently being built off Interstate 85 and Sugarloaf Parkway.

#What#s happening is that this building is being brought to the fans instead of the fans having to go to the building,# says Mike Storen, the chief operating officer of the Georgia Force # a team owned by Gwinnett business magnate Virgil Williams.

Storen notes that Gwinnett County is home to a huge chunk of metro Atlanta#s sports-loving community and that the move gives a boost to the momentum the franchise has developed since playing its inaugural season at Atlanta#s Philips Arena. Specifically, he and his colleagues believe the closer location will translate into more support among families looking for low-dollar, high-octane entertainment.

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce President Richard Tucker, meanwhile, says the team#s presence will be good for business as well.

#This is a great deal for the economy,# Tucker says. #The economic impact will be in the tens of millions of dollars considering revenues from sales at the arena and the economic stimulus that comes with team salaries and operations, vendor sales, convenience store and shopping sales, hotel stays, job creation, and hotel and motel sales taxes. Our community will also benefit from the positive exposure that comes with nationally televised games, not to mention an exciting entertainment experience.#

Fans can get their first look at the Force by checking out the new arena or tuning in NBC on Feb. 16, 2003 when The Force takes on the AFL World Champion San Jose SaberCats. The fact that the Georgia Force is the primary tenant of the building it plays in gives the team more control over its ability to schedule games # which Storen says is a necessity in coordinating game dates with NBC Sports. In March of 2002, NBC Sports and the Arena Football League reached a deal to begin airing games. As many as seven of the 70 nationally broadcasted games will be beamed up from Gwinnett.

For Storen, the television deal and the new home are two of many good tidings.

#There are a lot of things coming together for us,# he says. #If you#re going to have a successful sports franchise, you#ve got to have capable local ownership, an experienced management and coaching team, a good facility that#s the most up-to-date arena, and local market that#s knowledgeable in sports. All four of these things are coming together for us.#

To find out more about the team, visit

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