Baltimore acquires AFL Expansion Team Nov 14, 2016 14:14:10 GMT -8
Post by David on Nov 14, 2016 14:14:10 GMT -8
Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in.
In the case of the Arena Football League, things were looking to be on the outs. Orlando, Los Angeles, and Portland all closed up shop, while Arizona and Jacksonville decided to get out and continue to live in another indoor/arena league.
The league had come full circle; founded in 1987, the AFL began with 4 teams. 30 seasons later, the pearl anniversary season, the league honors years of history and memorable moments by fielding... 4 teams.
Just when many were ready to read the AFL its last rights, a ray of hope beamed through on Monday - the news that Baltimore, MD, would become the home of a brand new AFL franchise.
In the words of Monty Python - "I'm not dead!"
The acquisition of an expansion franchise in Baltimore was announced by Monumental Sports &; Entertainment, the same ownership group that owns the expansion Washington Valor. MSE, owned by chairman and CEO Ted Leonsis, announced that the Baltimore franchise would play at Royal Farms Arena and would begin play in the spring of 2017.
Said Leonsis in MSE's press release, “We are looking forward to bringing an AFL team to the Baltimore community. "Baltimore is known for its passionate sports fans, and we look forward to their spirited support of their AFL team. The AFL is a fast, fun experience for families and fans of all ages. We are excited about growing the league and using an array of technologies to bring fans closer to the game and the players. Baltimore is a natural location, and I envision some great rivalries between Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia."
Baltimore's expansion and priority to play as soon as next spring is a far cry from the process the league the league took when adding the Valor. When MSE was awarded an expansion team for Washington D.C., they were given a year in advance to plan out everything to have an efficiently run organization. The last thing the league wanted was a repeat of the Las Vegas Outlaws, whom many fans feel were rushed into play a year before it was ready to take the field.
While it's surprising that Baltimore would play as early as next spring, there's no reason to believe Baltimore would suffer the same fate as Las Vegas. Ted Leonsis, who owns the Valor, the NBA's Washington Wizards, the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and the NHL's Washington Capitals, has a better sense at how to run a franchise than a drunk and past-his-prime rock star like Vince Neil.
Commissioner Scott Butera voiced his confidence in Leonsis. "Baltimore is an ideal location for the Arena Football League and we look forward to rivalries with other AFL cities including Washington and Philadelphia,” he said in MSE's release. “This expansion also demonstrates the dedication of our strong ownership group and its commitment to expanding the Arena Football League as a premier source of sports entertainment."
MSE also announced that their sports network, Monumental Sports Network, will telecast not only the Washington Valor's games, but Baltimore's as well.
This is the AFL's first go-around in the Baltimore market, but the AFL team will be the third arena/indoor football franchise to be based out of Baltimore. The previous two teams, the Baltimore Blackbirds (2007) and the Baltimore Mariners (2008-2010, 2014), played in the American Indoor Football Association (AIF) and played their home games at Royal Farms Arena. While the Blackbirds were unsuccessful in their lone season, the Mariners had winning seasons in 3 of their 4 seasons, winning the AIFA Championship Bowl in 2010 and 2014.
With the addition of Baltimore, the AFL currently stands with 5 franchises tentatively scheduled to begin the season in April 2017. A sixth team, potentially located in St. Louis, Missouri, could be the next franchise on the way.
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