Football league protests at Fort Wayne mall over supposed deal with city

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A group of protestors reportedly tied to a football league gathered at Glenbrook Square Mall Saturday afternoon over an alleged dispute with the city of Fort Wayne.

Around 1:30 p.m., WANE 15 learned of large police presence at the mall. A video shared by a viewer showed a large and vocal crowd gathered in the middle of the rotunda of the mall, off the food court.

The group could be heard shouting, “Keep your word!”

Joe McClendon of the National Gridiron League organized the protest. McClendon, the founder of the league, told WANE 15 he’d struck a deal with the city of Fort Wayne to cover his teams’ hotel expenses, but he said they were not paid.

The National Gridiron League had announced plans to play its 2021 season entirely in Fort Wayne, in a 12-team bubble. The season is set to begin on May 1.

“We were told we will be given some support for the housing of the players, while they’re here during their stay in Fort Wayne,” McClendon said. “And unfortunately, some of those details haven’t been worked out those guys were put into that situation. I’m confident the mayor’s office can get it corrected.”

According to McClendon, police arrived soon after Saturday’s protest began and they were asked to vacate the premises.

McClendon said he planned on meeting with the City of Fort Wayne on Monday. WANE 15 has learned representatives with the city of Fort Wayne were looking into the claims.

It was December 2019 when it was announced the Indiana Blue Bombers had joined the National Gridiron League and would play 8 regular season home games at the Memorial Coliseum. The inaugural 2019 season never happened, though, and the 2020 season was called off due to COVID.

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