The Jersey Flight recently announced that it will be the 10th team to join the National Arena League next spring, making Trenton’s Sun National Bank Center its home.
The indoor football league, which launched its inaugural season last month, features teams from Columbus, Georgia; Corpus Christi, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Albany, Georgia; Boone, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Monterrey, Mexico.
The new team’s owners are Samuel Davis Jr. and Kyna Ruiz. The pair have known each other for more than a decade and work together in Davis’ tax and accounting firm.
Davis, a former sports agent, says the process has been in the works for three years. He and Ruiz were having a conversation when he began to wonder what it would be like to own a team. They began doing their research and realized it was something they could do.
“It sounded crazy to everybody on the outside, but to us, it seemed achievable,” said Ruiz, a sports lover and former basketball player. “We just kept moving forward and it happened.”
Neither have roots in Trenton, but are confident they will find success in the city and want to be a part of its revitalization efforts.
“Sun Center was very welcoming … and it made sense to go to the state’s capital if we wanted to be Jersey’s team and represent Jersey,” Ruiz said.
The arena has been without a main tenant since the Professional Indoor Football League’s Trenton Freedom ceased operations in May 2015. The other teams that tried, and failed, were the Trenton Lightning in 2001 and the Trenton Steel in 2011, also professional indoor football teams.
The Trenton Titans, a minor league hockey team, had the longest run at the arena, playing there from 1999 until 2013.
“People have tried before us, and although we have all the confidence in the world, we wanted a whole year of marketing, of building relationships, of connecting with the community,” she said. “We want everybody around us to understand that we’re serious about this and we mean business. … We wanted to give ourselves time to become an established organization and for people to recognize us so that when we hit the field, there’s no reason we can’t fill the stands.”
Davis says the team will offer family fun at affordable prices. He described arena football as a fast-paced, high-scoring game and says tickets will range from as low as $5 to around $45. After each game, kids will have an opportunity to go on the field to meet players and get autographs.
“The arena sits around 8,000 and we’re hoping that everyone comes out and supports,” he said.
The league’s closest team to Trenton is the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and Davis and Ruiz hope to create a regional rivalry.
“We’ve already been to their games and visited the owners,” Davis said. “We want to see how we can keep their stands filled as well as ours.”
The team plans to announce its coaching staff soon, and will hold tryouts later this summer.
The pair also started a nonprofit organization, Jersey Flight Community, as a way for them to get involved in the community and give back. They hope their initiatives will empower and educate both kids and their parents.