GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- After a month long hiatus, Detroit Lions web site LionsFans.com has returned to the online scene.
Following the closure of internet sports network Rivals.com, which served as LionsFans.com's host for two-years, the popular Lions' web site was forced to set-up a temporary web site -- serving as the site's own news page.
Publisher Nate Caminata, who launched the site as a personal project in 1996, reviewed several options -- including shutting down the web site.
"The decline of the internet advertising market only made that option a possibility because the staff, including myself, do this part-time," said Caminata. "And the site's growth demanded full-time attention ...by everyone involved."
The staff of LionsFans.com, compromised mainly of volunteers who administer the message board, and a few select writers, exceeds 10.
"Managing the staff, and allowing them to easily assist the web site, was something Rivals.com provided," continued Caminata. "When that disappeared, we had a problem."
Although other online sports networks offered their umbrella to LionsFans.com, many lacked the ability to provide the web site with reliability due to its high traffic volume and/or the proper administration tools.
In early May, however, LionsFans.com was approached by the former CEO of Rivals.com, Jim Heckman. Heckman, who vacated his position with Rivals several months after its launch (and when Rivals was in its prime), aimed to start-up another sports network and shed common dot com mistakes. Including those made by Rivals.
LionsFans.com signed a 9-month agreement in mid-May.
"He had a plan, but more importantly, experience behind it," said Caminata. "That is something Rivals never offered. They ran into a decaying internet armed with $70 million but no experience. They didn't know what to expect. Now we do."
Heckman launched his new project with multi-billion dollar Vulcan Publishing, naming the new network Citadel Partners.
And the tools that LionsFans.com needed were provided.
"Their administration tools, compared to what we had at Rivals, seem decades advanced." said Caminata. "It's like the difference between the computer in 1970 and the computer in 2000."
Caminata, a credentialed beat writer among his duties administering the web site, seemed confident -- and excited -- fans would be accepting to the new network.
"I'm a fan. The staff is completely made up of fans. And the list of ideas I have at this moment for LionsFans.com seems endless."
We're going to have a lot of fun."