BELTON — Champions Indoor Football announced Monday it has awarded a franchise to Belton, marking the return of professional sports to the area.

The new team, the Centex Fightin’ Cavalry, will play in the Bell County Expo Center, beginning with the 2017 season, and will have its games carried on the Eversport Sports Network worldwide.

A news conference is set for noon Thursday at the Expo Center, where the formal announcement will be made and the team’s logo and colors will be revealed. CIF Commissioner Randy Sanders and Fightin’ Calvary staff members Tim White and Ronald Oswalt will answer questions about the new franchise.

The league currently has 12 other teams divided into Northern and Southern divisions. The northern teams are 2016 champion Wichita (Kan.). Omaha (Neb.), Bloomington (Ill.), Sioux City (Iowa), Chicago and Salina (Kan.). The southern teams include Texas (Allen), Amarillo, Dodge City (Kan.), Duke City (Albuquerque, N.M.), San Angelo and Mesquite.

The Cavalry is the third indoor football team to call the Expo Center home, following the Texas Bullets, who played in the original Professional Indoor Football League for its only season of 1998, and the CenTex Barracudas, who played in the Intense Football League from 2006-08.

The Expo Center also hosted professional and Junior A hockey league teams from 1996-2005.

The CIF formed in 2014 out of the merger between the Champions Professional Indoor Football League and Lone Star Football League, plus one team from the Indoor Football League and two expansion teams.

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