This week arena football fans in Orlando, Florida discovered that their local team, the Orlando Predators, was just purchased by a new owner. But anyone looking for the team’s webpage was shocked to find themselves eyeballing a site listing sexual predators instead of info about football.
On July 16, the team made the announcement that time-share tycoon David Siegel had purchased the team. Siegel then immediately announced that he is bringing the team back to Amway Center in downtown Orlando.
“I found out the team was available and I’ve been a fan for 20-some-odd years,” the 79-year-old Siegel told the media. “I thought it would be a good business venture as well as a fun venture and a way that I could help the community.”
Some of the ideas Siegel is bringing to the team are free bus trips to games for guests of Westgate Resorts, and free tickets to veterans, underprivileged children, and students who make A’s on report cards.
Siegel also noted that he wants to help bring business and tourism back to Orlando’s downtown area.
But with this announcement, many fans ran to their computers to look up OrlandoPredators.com but instead of finding info about the team discovered a website dedicated to publicly-listed convicted sex offenders. When visitors go to what was once the team’s website, they are re-directed to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s archive of sexual offenders and predators.
It seems that previous team management allowed the team’s website registration to lapse and someone else bought it up when it became a public offering. Former managing partner David Pearsall was listed as the domain owner.
The team’s new owner appointed Jared Saft as team president and when approached about the website snafu by the Orlando Sentinel, Saft said that he went to the league to see what he could do.
“Our initial reaction was to reach out to the league,” Saft told the paper. “We’re really disappointed. [The website’s current owner is] potentially harming fans and children who are trying to get information on the team.”
Saft also insisted that whoever purchased the website is infringing on a trademark by using the team name for something other than the team.
In a statement to the paper, AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz agreed with Saft. “It’s unfortunate that previous ownership did not handle this differently, but the appropriate legal action has been commenced and we are confident that the Predators’ brand will remain as strong as ever,” he said.
In the meantime, Saft and crew launched a new site at MyOrlandoPredators.com for fans to get information about the team.
“Right now, we’re focused on the overwhelming calls for tickets, No. 1, and No. 2, protecting the fans from being diverted to a potentially disrupting website,” Saft said.
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