Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1992-1996 Charlotte Rage

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Charlotte RageArena Football League (1992-1996)

Born: October 10, 1991 – Arena Football expansion franchise.
Folded: 1996


Team Colors: Red, Teal & Silver

Owners: Allen J. Schwalb, Joanne Faruggia & Cliff Stoudt

Arena Bowl Championships: None


This early Arena Football franchise played five seasons in North Carolina, splitting dates between the massive, NBA-scale Charlotte Coliseum and the smaller Independence Arena.  The franchise was owned by motion picture financier Allen J. Schwalb, who backed some of the biggest blockbusters of the 1980’s, including Rambo, Rain Main, Moonstruck and Thelma & Louise.

During the Charlotte Rage’s first season in 1992, the team signed Joe DeLamielleure, a perennial All-Pro offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills during the late 1970’s.  41 years old at the time, DeLamielleure was seven years removed from his last NFL game in 1985.  He played in a handful of games for Charlotte in 1992 before retiring for good.  DeLamielleure remains the only member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to play Arena Football.

After a promising start in 1992 (13,248 average attendance for five dates), attendance plummeted to below 7,500 per game in 1993.  At some point, Schwalb’s relations with AFL Commissioner Jim Drucker and his fellow owners appeared to sour.  In July 1996, the Charlotte Business Journal reported that league officials were pressuring Schwalb to sell the franchise.  Schwalb had discussions with groups in Salt Lake City and Long Island, but ultimately folded the team in late 1996, taking an $850,000 payout from the league to turn in the franchise.  Schwalb would later file a $200 million Sherman anti-trust lawsuit against the league. Schwab asserted that the league unlawfully scuttled his efforts to sell and relocate the franchise and coerced him to sell the team back to the league for a below market price.  The suit seems to have been resolved in the early 2000’s, but it’s not clear what the resolution was.

Arena Football replaced the Charlotte Rage in the North Carolina market with the Raleigh-based Carolina Cobras in 2000.  The Cobras would later move to Charlotte in 2003 before going out of business in late 2004.


Charlotte Rage Memorabilia


Rage Video

Brief clip of the Rage in action at the Charlotte Coliseum against the Albany Firebirds in 1994.


In Memoriam

Former Charlotte Rage owner Allen Schwalb passed away on July 14, 2014 at age 76.  Variety obituary.



Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs


1994 Carolina Vipers

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Carolina VipersContinental Indoor Soccer League (1994)

Born: 1993 – CISL founding franchise.
Folded: Postseason 1994

Arena: Independence Arena (9,475)

Team Colors: Blue, Yellow & Red

Owners: Felix Sabates & Carl Scheer, et al.

CISL Championships: None


The Carolina Vipers soccer team was a founding member of the Continental Indoor Soccer League (1993-1997) but didn’t begin play until the league’s second season in the summer of 1994.

More than 50% of the CISL’s original franchise owners were investors in NBA or NHL franchises.  Vipers majority Felix Sabates was an original investor in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and co-owner Carl Scheer was a long-time ABA and NBA exec and the former President of the Hornets.  NASCAR legends Richard & Kyle Petty were also limited partners in the group.

The Sabates-Scheer group also owned the popular Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team, which debuted nine months before the Vipers in the fall of 1993.  Like the Checkers, the Vipers played in the 9,500 Independence Arena in Charlotte.  After several ownership changes – including a second term for Sabates in the early 2000’s, – the Checkers continue to play in Charlotte today.

The Carolina Vipers, by contrast, were a major misfire in the summer of 1994.  Under Head Coach David Irving, Carolina was one of the worst clubs in the history of the CISL with a 3-25 record.  Fans stayed away in droves.  The Vipers ranked 12th out of 14 clubs with announced attendance of 3,034 per game.   The club quietly folded after the 1994 season ended that September.   The CISL folded three years later in December 1997.



1994 Carolina Vipers $100K sponsorship proposal for Nabisco

Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs





1996 Charlotte Cobras

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Major Indoor Lacrosse League (1996)

Born: October 2, 1995 – MILL expansion franchise.
Folded: August 21, 1996 – The Cobras cease operations.

Arena: Independence Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Major Indoor Lacrosse League

MILL Championships: None


Very obscure Box Lacrosse entry that lasted for only one season in the centrally-owned Major Indoor Lacrosse League.  The Charlotte Cobras were added to the league as an expansion franchise in 1996, but they were badly overmatched.  The Cobras lost all 10 of their games and were outscored 186-85 for the season, an average deficit of more than 10 goals per game.

In August 1996 the league decided to shut down the Cobras rather than bring them back for a second season.

Would like to find a logo, pocket schedule or other scrap of memorabilia for this team, but not holding out much hope.  Thanks to for sending over this rare Cobras pocket schedule (above right).


==1996 Charlotte Cobras Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
1/12/1996 vs. Boston Blazers L 17-4
1/13/1996 @ Boston Blazers L 19-9
1/20/1996 @ Rochester Knighthawks L 15-10
1/27/1996 vs. Baltimore Thunder L 16-6
2/10/1996 @ Baltimore Thunder L 14-10
2/16/1996 vs. New York Saints L 20-9
2/24/1996 @ Buffalo Bandits L 28-6
3/2/1996 vs. Philadelphia Wings L 14-8
3/9/1996 @ Philadelphia Wings L 26-11
3/23/1996 vs. Rochester Knighthawks L 17-12



Box Lacrosse Media Guides

Box Lacrosse Programs


1997-2006 Charlotte Sting

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Women’s National Basketball Association (1997-2007)

Born: 1997 – WNBA founding franchise.
Folded: January 3, 2007 – The Sting cease operations.


Team Colors:

  • 1997-2003: Teal, Purple & White
  • 2004-2006:



The Charlotte Sting were one of eight original franchises in the Women’s National Basketball Association, which began play in the summer of 1997.  The Sting were originally the sister franchise of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, operated by George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge.

During the Sting’s early years the club was a regular playoff contender.  2001 was the Sting’s best campaign, but started out as a disaster under new Head Coach Anne Donovan.  The Sting lost ten of their first eleven games in 2001 before rallying to finish 18-14 and claim the 4th and final Eastern Conference playoff berth.  Charlotte upset the #1 seed Cleveland Rockers and then the New York Liberty to advance to the WNBA championship series for the first (and only) time.  The Sting lost to the Los Angeles Sparks in a two-game sweep.

The Sting’s existence came under threat from two sides in 2002.  In May of that year, locally despised Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge announced that they were moving their franchise to New Orleans for 2002-03 season.  They were not interested in taking the Sting with them.  A few months later, the WNBA restructured its business model and contracted for the first time, dropping from 16 to 14 active franchises.  The Sting seemed like a prime candidate for elimination, since they no longer had an owner or a local NBA infrastructure to rely on for front office operations.  But the Sting managed to elude the executioner’s sword and soon found a new savior in Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, who purchased a new NBA franchise for Charlotte to replace the Hornets (the Charlotte Bobcats) and soon afterwards decided to purchase the Sting as well.

Unfortunately, Johnson’s arrival on the scene in 2004 coincided with a steep decline in the Sting’s fortunes on the court and at the box office.  In 2005, the Sting finished with the worst record in the WNBA at 6-28.  Late in the season, the club fired Head Coach Trudi Lacey and replaced her with former Charlotte Hornets fan favorite Muggsy Bogues.

In 2006, the Sting moved out of their longtime home at the Charlotte Coliseum and into the brand new Charlotte Bobcats Arena downtown.  Muggsy Bogues was unable to right the ship, as the Sting finished near the cellar again in 2006 with an 11-23 record.  The move to the new arena didn’t help either.  The Sting averaged 5,783 fans for 17 home dates, which ranked 13th out of the WNBA’s 14 teams in 2006.

In December 2006, Bob Johnson handed the Bobcats back to the league.  An investor group expressed interest in buying the Sting and moving the franchise to Kansas City, but they couldn’t put the financial package together and the Sting shut their doors on January 3, 2007.




==Charlotte Sting Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
7/23/1997 vs. New York Liberty L 65-63 Roster Card
8/3/1997 @ Los Angeles Sparks W 77-70 Roster Card
6/18/2001 @ Seattle Storm L 60-52 Program



WNBA Media Guides

WNBA Game Programs



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