BREAKING - Massachusetts Pirates jump to IFL for 2021 Aug 18, 2020 19:00:15 GMT -8
Post by DiamondThief on Aug 18, 2020 19:00:15 GMT -8
WORCHESTER, MA – The Indoor Football League became the first indoor football league since 2016 to extend its reach coast to coast today, as the Massachusetts Pirates announced they are leaving the National Arena League to join the IFL for the 2021 season.
The announcement was made at a press conference just outside of the DCU Center here today, by team officials. There had been speculation that the Pirates would make a move, however information could not be credibly confirmed prior to this event. The Pirates will enter their third season of existence and first in the IFL.
Massachusetts becomes the first NAL team to join the IFL since the NAL played its first season in 2017. The Pirates, founded on November 15th of 2017, were successful in their two seasons in the NAL, not counting the 2020 season that was scrapped because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During their inaugural season in 2018, the Pirates went a league best 11-5 record and finished first in the overall league standings. However, they were bumped from the playoffs in the opening round by the Columbus Lions, 36-60 in the Semifinal round of the NAL Playoffs. Massachusetts followed up their inaugural campaign with an 8-6 mark in 2019, good for third in the overall league standings and clinched their second consecutive playoff berth. However, lost again in the opening round to the Carolina Cobras, 26-30.
Massachusetts initially left the NAL after the 2019 season due to disagreements with the NAL merger with CHampions Indoor Football. Two weeks after the merger was announced, the deal fell through and the NAL and CIF went back to their perspective entities. Massachusetts re-joined the NAL for 2020, but didn't play a down due to the pandemic. After the season was cancelled, the Pirates announced they were leaving the NAL, eventually joining the IFL.
The Pirates are coached by former New England Patriots fullback Patrick Pass, the third coach in team history behind Ameer Ismail (2018) and Anthony Payton (2019). Ismail is currently the Head Coach of the Iowa Barnstormers.
Every professional sports league suspended their seasons following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some leagues, such as the National Basketball Association and National Women’s Soccer League, it was temporary. For others, it was to look to what would be the following season; as was the case with the IFL. On March 13th, the IFL was the first indoor football league to announce it was suspending the season before the league officially canceled the season on April 13th.
Two games had been played at the start of the IFL 2020 season. The San Diego Strike Force defeated the Bismarck Bucks, 50-36, on March 7, while the Quad City Steamwheelers took care of their regional rival Cedar Rapids River Kings, 54-39, on March 8.
The Pirates play their home games at DCU Center, which is located in downtown Worchester. The arena, which opened in 1982, has a seating capacity of 12,239 persons for hockey (indoor football and hockey have somewhat similar capacities for their respective games). Worchester is located approximately 40 miles east of Boston. They've been the third tenant to call Worcester home, including the Massachusetts Maurauders of the now-defunct Arena Football League in 1994, and the New England Surge of the Continential Indoor Football League from 2007-2008.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that IFL teams' arenas may be empty, or have limited numbers of fans during the 2021. Those details will be worked out by the league and its teams leading up to the season, which is expected to start sometime around February or March.
Massachusetts joins a rapidly growing IFL which has more than doubled from its six-team slate in 2018. The Duke City Gladiators made the jump from Champions Indoor Football following the 2019 season. The Pirates, along with the Frisco Fighters, Oakland Panthers and Spokane Shock, bring the league to 14 teams in 2021, with the expansion Columbus Wild Dogs committed to join in 2022.
Those teams join a strong slate of teams in the league from last season: Bucks, River Kings, Steamwheelers, Strike Force, Storm, Arizona Rattlers, Green Bay Blizzard, Iowa Barnstormers and Tucson Sugar Skulls. The Nebraska Danger shut down following the 2019 season in search of new ownership.
Massachusetts is the first team in 2021 to join the IFL, which will enter its 12th season next year.
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