The Brainerd lakes area is a mecca for activities like golf, fishing and auto racing in the summer.
Apparently, it's also becoming a mecca for semi-pro football. The Brainerd Lumberjacks of the Midwest Premier Football League, who will begin their third season this summer, will be joined this year by the Minnesota Tigers of the Midwest Spring Football League.
Edward D. Fox, 58, chairman and head coach of the Tigers, was an assistant coach for the Lumberjacks for part of the 2010 season. He believes two teams can co-exist in Brainerd/Baxter, which has a combined population of roughly 20,000.
"Especially since we're not playing the same weekends," Fox said, "and we're in a different league."
The Tigers will be joined in the MSFL North Star Division by the Northern Terror (Chisago Lakes), Dakota Warriors (Yankton, S.D.) and Minnesota Flight. The MSFL may secure more teams and form another division in 2011 but that's in the planning stages at this point.
Brandon Jones, former Lumberjacks defensive coordinator for part of last season, will be the Tigers' defensive coordinator. Dave Badeaux will serve as the offensive coordinator.
The team is owned by a corporation, which is registered with the secretary of state of Minnesota. Fox's wife, Joni, is the owner. Fox said additional shareholders include Badeaux, Michael Kimball and Jones.
"I have no stock in it whatsoever," Fox said. "I get no money out of this."
To date, Fox said the Tigers have secured Domino's Pizza, Minnesota Ts, Clark Excavating, Digital Ink and Fornshell Bus Service of Pillager as sponsors.
He has signed 27 players, including a few former Lumberjacks.
"We can play with 27, but I would like to get more," Fox said.
Tigers players will sell sweatshirts and T-shirts to help pay for their equipment, all of which they must furnish. The team hopes to purchase a bus to transport the Tigers to road games.
The Tigers plan to play on the soccer field adjacent to Mill Avenue behind one of the softball fields at Memorial Park, across the street from Wausau Paper in northeast Brainerd. Fox said the Tigers hope to start home games on Saturdays at noon and not conflict with the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers of the Northwoods League, whose Saturday baseball games typically begin at 7:05 p.m.
Interim Brainerd Parks and Recreation director Tony Sailer said Fox has been invited to the Feb. 28 park board meeting to iron out a contract with the city. Sailer said the city's only responsibility will be to provide and stripe the field.
Fox said he plans to build goalposts and needs to purchase things like bleachers, yard markers and a scoreboard as well as provide insurance and hire officials.
A California native, Fox is a 1971 graduate of Pillager High School and a retired veteran.
"I'm trying to do something to give back to the community," he said. "This is all for (players). I'm set pretty good. I don't need to do this. I decided to do this for something to do."
Minnesota Tigers schedule
May 28: Tigers at Northern Terror
June 4: Dakota Warriors at Tigers
June 11: Terror at Tigers
June 18: Tigers at Flight
June 25: Tigers at Warriors
July 16: Flight at Tigers
July 30: Championship
Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.