It looks as if the Kentucky Horsemen have taken their last ride. The indoor football team announced Monday night that it will not play in 2010, and a press release said Horsemen board chairman Brett Kincaid has decided to "stop all operations."
"Every year during this time, people are wondering whether the Horsemen will be around," said Matt DiLorenzo, general manager. "It's just unfortunate, but when you look at a business decision ... nobody has made money on this."
The team, which was created in 2003 and played in Rupp Arena, has not broken even in at least the past four or five years, DiLorenzo said.
Late last year, after years of subsidizing the team from his own pocket, the Horsemen's owner, Lennie House, turned it into a non-profit community team by effectively donating it to the Horsemen Charitable Foundation.
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Kincaid has put up his own money for the team since then, and "he can no longer financially keep the team going by himself," DiLorenzo said.
Former University of Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen played for the team during its most recent season. He said he had been looking forward to playing again next summer.
"It's tough because that kind of brought me back to Lexington," said Lorenzen, who lives in Fort Thomas.
If another opportunity to play indoor football presented itself, Lorenzen said, he'd be interested.
"The cleats are tough to hang up," he said. "Because once you do, you're done."
Less than a month ago, it was announced that the Horsemen would be part of a new league, Arena Football 1, next season.
DiLorenzo said part of the decision to fold stemmed from that. The new league wanted a $100,000 letter of credit for workers' compensation, plus another $100,000 letter of credit for operations, as well as a $50,000 payment to buy in, he said.
"They wanted us to have this money in like a month and a half," DiLorenzo said.
He said ticket sales and sponsorships were the only sources of income for the team, which averaged 3,600 people per game last year. Because the team does not have its own facility, it did not collect money from parking or concessions. He said it's a problem many indoor teams face.
"We made it a lot longer than a lot of other teams," DiLorenzo said.
He said he had notified the players that the team was folding via conference call Monday.
Most of the 28 players on the Horsemen's roster also worked full-time jobs, in addition to the time they put in practicing, traveling and doing community service.
By way of compensation, the league paid them $200 per game, plus a $50 bonus if they won, DiLorenzo said; during the season, which ran from March to August, team members were given housing and one meal a day.
"You're not doing it for the money," Lorenzen said. "You're doing it for the love. That's the part we'll miss the most."