For the first time since 2011, Nebraska Danger will not have a season, and it is not because of COVID-19. In 2019, Bosselman Enterprises sold the indoor professional football team. Charlie Bosselman, the previous owner, had a very busy schedule between his company and owning Danger.
“[My entire family] was involved,” he said. “It…became the kind of deal where, ‘Gosh, how much more time can we devote to this?’”
Heartland Events Center, the home stadium for Danger, was “sitting empty” for eight years before 2011. Bosselman’s father expressed his frustration about this, which led to Bosselman buying an indoor football franchise.
Nebraska Danger was a part of the Indoor Football League (IFL) for nine years. During that time, they had seven straight playoff appearances and three Conference Championships. But, to Bosselman, the organization meant more to him than the success.
“We were able to achieve a lot, without a whole lot…not everybody can do that,” he said.
Before Nebraska Danger, Nebraska had at least four IFL teams, but most of the organizations ended. For example, the Lincoln Haymakers was established in 2004 and folded in 2014.
“Part of the reason that it didn’t succeed is that it was in the old Pershing auditorium. That building has seen better days,” Brain Gallagher, the P.A. Announcer for Nebraska Danger, said of the Haymakers.
The Danger’s stadium can hold up to 6,000 fans with reasonable ticketing prices. For Gallagher, that made Grand Island the “perfect place for an IFL team.”
One difference between outdoor and indoor football is the length of the field. An NFL field is 300 feet long, while an IFL field is only 100 feet long. Indoor professional football also requires no punting.
“Essentially, you’re playing football inside of a hockey rink with world-class athletes,” he said.
The team included athletes from regions all over the country. Last season, former Huskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. played on the team. Huskers fans expressed their excitement for this new addition.
“Tommy brought a unique element,” Gallagher said. “He just showed great leadership.”
When the season started, Danger radio announcer Steve Stein said Grand Island “really embraced them.” During the first few years, Danger attracted enough people to get Heartland Events Center at full capacity. The last couple of years, though, the stadium was only filled with half of the fans. Stein believes that the fans are part of the reason the team did not make it to ten years.
“I wish people would have appreciated it more,” Stein said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t embrace it [to keep the team around longer].”
After nine years, Bosselman put the team on the market. He says it’s just too big a commitment for him and the family.
“You’ve got to have time and you’ve got to have money. If you have one and not the other, you can’t do it,” he said.
Bosselman Enterprises provided the traveling teams with a place to stay and a meal before each game. This made possible by their nine hotels, three restaurants and a few food courts. Stein knows that a new owner would have to find a way to provide as Bosselman did.
“Charlie [Bosselman] was equipped to run the Danger. When somebody else comes in, they’ll have to start from scratch,” Stein said.
Nebraska Danger has been on the market since July of 2019, but no person or group of people have bought the team. Bosselman met with several people so far, but he has not found the “right group, person or organization for the team.”
“No one from Grand Island has stepped forward,” Bosselman said. “I’ve tried some other markets, the Omaha market looked fairly interested…I just haven’t been able to get the right combination.”
Despite no upcoming season for the Danger, the IFL suspended the rest of its season because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Bosselman said this year “would’ve been a complete disaster.”
“The owners [this season]…spent all the money and got no revenue in return,” he said.
According to Stein, the life expectancy of an IFL team is usually around five years. Nebraska Danger almost doubled that. The fan base kept them alive, but Stein knows that these times are different for everybody.
“People are more worried about their individual lives, especially during the pandemic,” he said.
With everything happening, Gallagher believes that it will all work out in the end.
“[We]…have to work through it. There’s not a thing [anybody] can do about it except try to stay healthy and get through whatever’s next. Hopefully, at the end of this, we get to come back for some Nebraska Danger.”