Without playing one game, the team once known as the Fairfield County Ravens has gained national sponsors and moved up into a tougher and larger league – and all in just four months.
Now known as the Western CT Militia, it has Danbury-based Union Savings Bank as its title sponsor and Sports Authority and PowerAde, a Coca-Cola product, as national sponsors.
The newly formed double-A football team retains a majority of the owners and management of the original triple-A Fairfield County Ravens.
“It’s really unprecedented that we’ve been able to move up to the double-A division without having played a season,” said Lloyd Dotson, co-owner of the team. “That has never happened before, but we really have a great backing.”
The CT Ravens name still exists with one of the anonymous original owners of the team retaining the name and ownership. That owner is not involved with the new team.
“We moved in a different direction and there was more investment involved,” Dotson said.
The team has taken on one new owner in Carl Oberg, who along with Dotson and two other silent partners will make up the ownership team.
Players will don crimson red and black as the Militia, a team name that emerged through crowd sourcing, in which social media platforms are utilized and anyone can contribute.
“It’s a great name and fits very well into the area with our Revolutionary War history,” Dotson said. The team mascot will be General Wooster after the American Revolutionary military figure Gen. David Wooster. Home games will include Revolutionary War re-enactors leading the team out on to the field.
The team will start playing this June at Immaculate High School in Danbury and play an ten-game regular season in the New England Football League, a 42-team league with four divisions.
“We’ve really surprised ourselves with what we can offer here,” Dotson said. “This thing has grown so fast.”
The Militia will be charging $7 for adults and $5 for children 10 and older and will offer free admission to fire, police, EMT and other emergency public personnel as well as all veterans.
The team has also recently partnered with the Newtown Youth Academy, where it will hold all of its indoor training practices. Dotson said he hopes to be able to bring attention to the center, which until six years ago was an abandoned hospital and has since received a multimillion-dollar anonymous donation to turn it into a community athletic facility. The center, which is part of the Fairfield Hills Campus is across from the Newtown Town Hall. The center serves as a facility for community and after-school programs in Newtown.
“It’s really a hidden gem just outside of Danbury,” said Dotson.
Bernie Armstrong, the team general manager, will be holding training camps through April at the facility.
In regard to the sponsors, Dotson said, “these brands are on board and we are very excited to have them. We’re happy to have major sponsors locally and nationally. This is really is great, inexpensive, community-based entertainment, which is what a local sports team is supposed to be in the first place,” Dotson said.