Coney Island hopes it catches lightning in a bottle with its newest sports franchise, the Brooklyn Bolts, part of the new Fall Experimental Football League (XFXL).
To get them started on the right foot, on Tuesday, October 14, players and coaches of the first professional football team in Brooklyn since 1949 were welcomed at Brooklyn Borough Hall by Borough President Eric Adams, fans and local dignitaries.
Players gathered early to sign autographs for the team’s growing fanbase. A press conference then followed, with the players sitting on the steps of Borough Hall.
“We are extremely excited we have a football team back in the borough of Brooklyn,” said Adams. “We started off the return to professional sports with our baseball team in Coney Island, then came the Nets, then the announcement that the Islanders are coming. Now, we have football coming to Coney. You can’t ask for anything more.”
The Bolts team consists of players that have some NFL experience and hope to return to the league or are recently removed from the college level.
XFXL Commissioner Brian Woods assured fans that they can expect high quality football. “The word has gotten out about our league,” he said.” I want to be clear: It’s not just some of these players that have NFL experience. It’s just about every one of them. We tell people all the time, [the XFXL] is a minor league model with a major league product. What you’ll see is NFL-caliber talent.”
Although the product on the field promises to be exciting, tickets will be affordable, with prices starting at $20 per seat. “You’re going to get a quality game for nowhere near the expensive nosebleed prices that come with the NFL. These are pros at their best,” said Adams.
The new team, which will host three games at Coney Island’s MCU Park, is also expected to help the neighborhood financially.
“In Coney Island, we have wonderful amusements and entertainment, but a lot of our economy is seasonal and I truly appreciate the fact that the Bolts are extending the life of our economy in our neighborhood,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger. “People will be visiting Coney Island during months that sometimes they don’t visit.”
“Economic development, business, jobs, excitement, continue to come to Brooklyn,” added Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura.
The community is hoping to create the same fanfare for the Bolts that was generated by the Brooklyn Cyclones during their inaugural season in 2001. “I’m hoping it takes off with neighborhood and people around city want to come out and watch this team play,” said joint Bolts owner and New York Mets owner, Jeff Wilpon.
Although the team hasn’t been practicing for long, Bolts head coach John Bock is pleased with the progress thus far. “We put the staff and team together in a short period of time and for last 17 days these young men and coaches have put together a great product,” he said. “I’m proud of everyone. We’re so excited to be here. Bring the thunder and we’re ready to go.”