The New Frankfurt Galaxy: A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

[tps_title]A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes[/tps_title]

During the club’s annual general meeting in June 2014, its chairmen elected to outsource the men’s first team for the upcoming season to form the “Frankfurter Football Betriebs GmbH & Co. KG”, directed by entrepreneur Matthias Mämpel. Under German law, a registered federation (e.V.) is prohibited from earning profits. In order to attract new sponsors, sell merchandise, etc., the move had to be made to set up a more professional environment. Still, the biggest bang was yet to follow. After 7 years, the rights to the Galaxy name and brand were no longer protected by the NFL, so the Universe leaders decided to bring back the Frankfurt Galaxy name in 2015.

This bold move wasn’t received with joy from everyone. For instance, former Galaxy great Daniel “The Bull” Benetka was furious and immediately canceled his honorary membership.

“When the Frankfurt Galaxy stopped breathing in 2007, a part of me also died forever. We founded the Universe full of passion, striving to give the fans and friends of our Galaxy a new home. With the help of many volunteers and players that gave their heart to the organization, we were able to establish the Universe and celebrate successes. I was proud to be one of the founding members. To rename the Universe into the Galaxy at this point feels like a punch in the face to me and should be the same to all Universe fans.”

Benetka wasn’t alone in his disgust. A few other former players and some fan clubs will boycott the new Galaxy – which has the subline “by Universe” in its brand name – and may criticize CEO Matthias Mämpel’s every move. Fan advisor Michael Kunze quickly responded.

“Right now we have to deal with a lot of naysayers that we haven’t seen in years. All of a sudden critics have shown up whom were never involved with the original Galaxy.“

On the other hand, there are household names like Martin Latka (Galaxy RB from 2004-2007) and Markus Grahn (German national team coach 2005-2007, Universe HC 2007-2012) that strongly support the new Galaxy. Latka has contributed to the Universe on the field since its inception as a running back and linebacker over the past 7 years. Grahn was the head coach of the Universe from 2007 to 2012 and will be the new Galaxy head coach in 2015. During the past two seasons he was part of Dresden Monarchs’ coaching staff, helping to guide the GFL team to a German Bowl berth and a national semi-final, respectively.

Michael Kunze wants to manage the expectations of Galaxy fans.

“The new team is no longer a professional NFL Europe team. Instead we’re talking about semi-pro GFL2 team. We need to stay realistic.”

Team supporters should not to expect any wonders – you simply cannot compare the level of play of both Galaxy teams. This new team won’t play in the 40,000 seat Commerzbank Arena nor will there be a full roster of professionals. In Germany only two American import players are allowed on the field at one time. Therefore, the core of the team must consist almost entirely of German players. Similar to John Grisham’s “Playing for Pizza” (Amazon: USA/UK/FR/ES/DE/IT) American players are of major importance to a team’s success in the upper leagues.

In any event, the creation of the new Galaxy marks a new period in team history. Additionally, a breeze of fresh air is blowing through football in Germany, similar to Uli Honeneß’s decision to bring FC Bayern basketball to the top of the Bundesliga. A brand like Bayern Munich or the Frankfurt Galaxy can revive a whole sport from its deep sleep.

For the upcoming season many players of international acclaim have already signed with the Galaxy, even though the team still plays in GFL2. Quarterback Emmanuel Lewis (26, New Mexico Highlands University) and defensive lineman Brandon Collier (28, University of Massachusetts, Calgary Stampeders (CFL) & Swarco Raiders) are the two main US imports that have already been announced. The Galaxy also signed Austrian wide receiver Laurinho Walch (22, Vienna Vikings), one of the most sought after young pass catchers in Europe.

“When you come over here as an import player, money-wise you’ll earn a modest salary. But football-wise you’ll be offered a great opportunity to grow as a player thanks to our professional coaching,” says Kunze.

Mark your calendars, the team’s first home game in 2015 will be played on May 23rd against the München Rangers at Volksbank stadium.

Like a phoenix* rising from the ashes, the Galaxy will be back in Frankfurt 2015.

*Note: The phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage that lives up to 100 years. Near the end of its life, it settles in to its nest of twigs which then burns ferociously, reducing bird and nest to ashes. And from those ashes, a fledgling phoenix rises – renewed and reborn.

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Björn Hesse is a contributor writer from Berlin, Germany. Having been a Frankfurt Galaxy fan since childhood, he played linebacker for the Leipzig Lions in Germany’s third league (Regionalliga-Ost) from 2003 to 2008. He worked as a PR intern for