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Stingrays football starts stock program

November 7, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

If it's good enough for the Green Bay Packers, it's good enough for a local semi-pro football team looking to represent Southwest Florida and take its program to the next level.

The Florida Stingrays, a semi-pro football team that will play its games this season at North Fort Myers High Schools, is starting a program where people can buy stock for the team as a way for it to strengthen its finances and, in the future, perhaps start its own statewide football league.

And an MMA fighter is going to help kickstart the program.

The Stingrays are going to get some help from local MMA fighter Niko Price, who, before starting his fighting career, was a mainstay at Stingrays games.

"He's been a buddy of mine for quite a while. We used to go to Bible study and other stuff. He just joined the ownership group of the Stingrays and he's going to help us launch the stock-sharing program," said owner Jay Lawrence, who approached Price about joining the ownership group.

Price was not available for comment.

Lawrence said he has been trying to put a new league together for a decade. He got the idea from the way the Green Bay Packers ownership works, with the public buying shares in the team so the team can expand its stadium.

"I called the team's legal department after they won the Super Bowl. I talked to a lady there and they sent me an e-mail and were excited we wanted to start a league like that," Lawrence said.

The Stingrays franchise will be split into 20,000 shares, with the ownership group getting 51 percent (10,200 shares) and forming a corporation. The rest will be sold to the public, with the first launch being just 1,000 shares at $100 per share.

There also will be a family package of five shares for $400.

"It will be a share of the team, a season ticket, a polo shirt and T-shirt that says team owner and a bracelet good for discounts at restaurants around town," Lawrence said. "We want to have insurance for our players and do more outreach such as the new kids league we started."

Once those shares are sold, the next step is to announce, at the beginning of the year, that Lawrence will start a new league in the state in 2021, with that worth 72 million shares, with 51 percent going to ownership groups in the league. There will be 100,000 shares sold statewide at $10 apiece.

"We can raise up to $1 million without the SEC getting involved. It also gives us capital for upfront money so we can get the legalities handled to start a 10-team league," said Lawrence, whose team is currently in the Florida Football Alliance. "It would give us capital to market the league."

The league would start play by December 2021.

We're going to build something great here for Southwest Florida," Lawrence said.



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