Virginia Destroyers will play games this fall
Virginia Destroyers will play games this fall

By Harry Minium
The Virginian-Pilot
© July 27, 2012

VIRGINIA BEACH

The Virginia Destroyers will return to play an eight-week schedule this fall, including four games at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex, officials said Thursday.

There had been widespread speculation the United Football League team would not return after the 2011 season was shortened because of financial problems. That's largely because the UFL had been unable to negotiate a network TV agreement.

But CBS Sports Network announced Thursday afternoon it has signed a deal with the UFL to televise two games per week beginning Sept. 19. Games will be televised Wednesdays and Fridays, nights on which NFL games traditionally are not broadcast.

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said Destroyers officials told him they planned to play this fall, but the UFL needed a TV deal to make it work.

"I'm very excited that they got a contract," he said. "That's huge. They had a successful season last year. They drew good crowds and there was a great atmosphere at the Sportsplex.

"I'm looking forward to another good season."

The Destroyers finished 4-1 last season, beating Las Vegas in the championship game 17-3 before a standing-room-only crowd of 14,172 at the Sportsplex. Virginia Beach's Aaron Rouse, the strong safety from First Colonial High and Virginia Tech, had three interceptions and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

John Castleberry, a senior vice president for the Destroyers, said Marty Schottenheimer plans to return as head coach.

Castleberry said he expects the UFL to be a four-team league again, with Sacramento and Omaha joining Las Vegas and the Virginia Beach team.

Castleberry said the team's front-office staff has been paid during the offseason and continued to work.

"We've been waiting on the go-ahead to sign the lease," he said. "We've been told all along that we expect to play football this season.

"Once we get a schedule, we've got a lot of tickets and sponsorships to sell very, very quickly. We're anxious to get the ball rolling."

Terms of the deal with CBS Sports Network, which reaches 99 million homes, weren't announced. The network issued a statement from senior vice president of programming Dan Weinberg, saying: "Fans have an appetite for football at all levels and we're excited to showcase the UFL."

Harry Minium, 757-446-2371, harry.minium@pilotonline.com

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