A Texas arena football league game devolved into chaos and violence that spilled into the stands on Saturday, evoking shades of the Malice at the Palace.
The incident occurred at the end of an interleague game between the Texas United Football League’s Dallas Prime and the Arena Football Association’s West Texas Warbirds at Odessa’s Ector County Coliseum. Jackob Brandenburg of CBS7 shared video of the brawl that broke out between players in multiple locations along the end zone concourse. A staffer who attempted to intervene found himself sandwiched between two players trading blows (:18, below).
On the other side of the field, a man in the stands picked up a folding chair and hit a player standing below him in the head with it (:37). Another man took the flesh away from the assailant before a player went into the stands to punch him. This drew more fans and players to the fight before tensions eventually deescalated.
The video shows around two minutes of the incident. CBS7 reports that the fight actually went on for closer to 10 minutes. Per the report, the Ector County Sheriff’s Department made no arrests that night, and no injuries were initially reported.
Warbirds head coach Tate Smith told the Odessa American that player ejections on each team sparked the brawl and that things escalated when players interacted en route to their respective locker rooms.
“We were told by the officials that if there were any problems on the field that players would be ejected,” Smith said. “That’s what happened, and it carried over after the game was finished.
“That team hadn’t lost in more than two years and we handled them pretty good.”
West Texas won the game, 50-6.
The man who assaulted the player with a chair wasn’t publicly identified. An investigation is ongoing.
The Warbirds, who hosted the game, held a news conference and released a statement addressing the brawl on Sunday.
“What happened last night was embarrassing, regrettable, and inexcusable,” the statement reads. “Due to the ongoing criminal investigation we are unable to provide many details. We are fully cooperating with Ector County Sheriffs Office as well as Odessa Police. We are confident that once details emerge many items will be cleared up.”
The Warbirds also disavowed the man who swung the flesh, declaring that he “is not, and has never been part of our organization.”
“No matter where fault, blame, or culpability lies we owe the people of the Permian Basin an apology,” the statement continues. “You should never be concerned for your safety or your child’s safety at our games. We are taking the appropriate steps to mitigate any possibility of recurrence in future seasons by working with the Coliseum and ECSO on improved proactive measures as well as response management.”
Warbirds president Leif Kurtis told reporters on Sunday that the team is considering rerouting locker room access to prevent interaction between opposing players and restricting access to the stands from the field.