AFL to forge ahead with a 4-team league in 2017 Oct 13, 2016 20:23:28 GMT -8
Post by DiamondThief on Oct 13, 2016 20:23:28 GMT -8
October 13, 2016 -- Just four teams will occupy the Arena Football league in 2017.
Following a conference call between the four owners this evening, sources have confirmed the set up for the upcoming season. This comes following the folding of three teams and the defection of another two to other arena/indoor leagues. The schedule and format are still to be announced. Over a matter of the past two days, the league has gone from nine teams to just four.
The Cleveland Gladiators, Philadelphia Soul, Tampa Bay Storm and expansion Washington Valor are the teams which will comprise the league. The Soul are the reigning ArtenaBowl XXIX champions, and the Valor franchise was announced by the AFL in March.
The Portland Steel, a franchise which was taken over by commissioner Scott Butera and the league in January and run by the AFL for the duration of the 2016 season, has been folded. The Steel entered the league prior to the 2014 season as the Portland Thunder, owned by Clackamas, Oregon businessman Terry Emmert. They were 13-39 in the regular season and 0-3 in the playoffs in their three seasons in the AFL. There is wide speculation that Emmert may bring back the Thunder (he still owns the trademark) to play in the Indoor Football League.
Last season, the Spokane Shock/Empire made the transition from the AFL to the IFL, and the Iowa Barnstormers did the same two years ago. When a team transitions from one league to another, the most notable difference is the overhaul of the roster. Fans of teams moving to other leagues should prepare themselves for that inevitability. Simply put, the players to which those fans have become attached will be gone.
The Los Angeles KISS and Orlando Predators have also folded. The Predators made the announcement yesterday on their website that after 25 seasons in the league, they were done. There was nothing in the statement whether the Predators would return to the AFL or if they would move to another league.The KISS, which entered the league the same season as the Thunder, also posted a 13-39 regular season record and were 0-1 in the playoffs during their tenure. The team was part of the brand of the band KISS, specifically Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.
The Jacksonville Sharks announced yesterday that they are in the "final stages" of reaching an agreement to join a "rival league," though they did not name which league that is. Wide speculation is that it is the IFL. However, that has not been confirmed. The Sharks were one of two teams against whom the Thunder/Steel had an all-time winning record; 3-1 (the now-defunct San Antonio Talons are the other; the Thunder were 1-0 against them). While the IFL or even Champions of Indoor Football could be geographically challenging for the Sharks, there could be other league options for the franchise.
Earlier today, sources reported that the Arizona Rattlers of the AFL would be joining the IFL. Though this is preliminary, it seems these reports are becoming close to coming to fruition. The Rattlers won five ArenaBowl titles over their time in the AFL.
More announcements are expected to follow. We will update as news becomes available.
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