The New Haven Ninjas named Rick Buffington as their first coach and general manager Thursday.
Buffington brings over 13 years of Arena Football League experience and hopefully additional momentum to lagging ticket sales, the team said.
“I am thrilled to be back in Connecticut coaching,” Buffington said. “Since coaching the [Connecticut] Coyotes, I have seen so many friends and fans in the area grow appreciative of Arena Football. I look forward to having all of them join again in having Arena Football fun.”
The Ninjas will begin play in April in arenafootball2, a minor league associated with the Arena Football League.
Buffington, nicknamed “Coach Buff,” has coached four arena football teams previously, earning playoff berths in three of 11 seasons.
He most recently served as the general manager of the AFL’s Florida Bobcats in 2000. He last coached in Connecticut in 1995 for the AFL’s Coyotes, who have since left Hartford.
Team officials expect the coaching announcement to stimulate ticket sales similar to the boost they received after the team’s name became official. The “500 in 50” ticket sale campaign at the end of the summer came up short of the goal of 500 tickets in the 50 day period.
But after the announcement of the Ninjas name and logo on Oct. 22, the team began a campaign to sell 50 tickets in five days and reached the goal in just 48 hours.
“Our lack of a name and lack of a logo really held us back,” said Jessica Sousa, the team’s ticket sales manager.
Sousa said 98 percent of the season tickets for the VIP section have been sold, but over two-thirds of the seats for the rest of the sections remain.