Milwaukee Iron gets new investor

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Lost in the local sports hoopla among the likes of Marquette basketball, the Packers, the Brewers and the Bucks comes a newer team: the Iron.

IronThe indoor football team, founded in 2008, has a new investor: Phoenix-based Highland Business Services, Inc. The company’s buyout was announced last week.

As the Milwaukee Iron get ready to take the Bradley Center indoor field in the debut season of Arena Football 1 in March, the new investment helps the team begin on a positive note, said Jason Clark, the team’s vice president and general manager.

“Highland sees arena football as a growth sport and thought the timing was right for an investment now that the Iron are playing at the elite level of the sport in Arena Football 1,” Clark said.

The new league rises from the ashes of the defunct Arena Football League, which indefinitely suspended operations in December 2008. The original AFL was founded in 1987.

The new AF1 combines teams from the AFL and the arenafootball2 developmental league.

Clark said AF1’s business strategy is to take some lessons from the AFL experience, but the key difference is the league wants to make a profit. He’s confident the revived league can pique fan interest with its fast-paced action and high scoring — like the original AFL.

“This sport has some of the most passionate fans in the world, and Arena Football 1 will bring the highest level of arena football back to the fans,” he said.

He said AF1 is organized as a single entity with players and coaches employed by the league. The league is in the process of selecting a national television partner to produce games of the week and other media content.

The firm purchasing the team is using it as a test case for a new business strategy.

Highland is a new firm in its development stages that intends to create a network of firms that offer professional services to public companies.

The Iron is Highland’s first major project, according to Rodger Spainhower, the company’s CEO. Spainhower said in an interview the Iron will own more of Highland by the time the transaction is complete.

“We were looking at a potential merger and in essence what this turns out to be is a reverse merger,” Spainhower said.

Fans and consumers alike will have the ability to purchase publicly traded shares of the team. Shareholders will have majority ownership, similar to how the Packers operate, Spainhower said.

“They can be both a team owner and a season ticket owner,” he said.

Although Highland is based in Phoenix, the Iron will still be managed in Milwaukee, said Gary Miller, one of the team’s co-owners and chairman of the team’s finance committee.

Miller said the fusion of the two arena leagues into AF1 presents the Iron the opportunity to compete with established and successful franchises in places like Arizona, Chicago and Orlando.

He said Highland’s investment would not have happened without the promise of long-term financial security for the new league and its franchises.

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