COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It’s the off-season for indoor football teams, but the Columbus Lions are saying what off-season? The Lions did a lot of business on Wednesday to get ready for the upcoming 2019 National Arena League season.
The Lions introduced a new addition to their ownership group, Dr. Jay Patel, a retired surgeon who owns The Outskirts sports bar buying into the franchise as a minority owner.
“On paper, there’s a handful of people who are owners,” said Patel, “but I think as a whole, Columbus owns the Lions and we want to bring that to the people. We’ll make the changes that everybody can be proud of, to take pride in, pun intended.”
He also gave a sales pitch for the team and sport he helped support as a major sponsor last season.
“When I go to these games, I see the excitement. If you haven’t experienced arena football, this is where you need to go. It’s in-your-face, up close and personal. It is the most amazing experience you could have and it’s right here in our backyard.”
The Lions also did a little work on the roster, signing veteran wide receiver Bones Bagaunte. The former University of Cincinnati Bearcat helped lead the Massachusetts Pirates to the NAL playoffs last season. He was third in the NAL in all-purpose yard and in field goal returns, and eight in the league in scoring.
The Lions know about that, because he did a lot of it against Gibson and crew. In three games versus the Lions, Bagaunte had 24 catches for 207 yards and four touchdowns, as well as retuning a missed field goal 53 yards for another score.
He's looking forward to working next season with the NAL's 2018 Offensive Player of the Year, Lions quarterback Mason Espinosa.
“Mason’s a great guy all around, Bagaunte said. “We played together in 2016 up in Billings so that’s good. We have that chemistry already. We’re going to get on the same page very, very often.”
Jason Gibson was enthusiastic about his newest Lions wide receiver.
“I’ve always said if you can’t beat ‘em, sign ‘em,” said the Lions head coach. “There’s good players all over the country and there’s good receivers, but his personality and who he is I think fits what we’re trying to do here.”