Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Arena Football League (1987-Today)

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1987 Arena Football League Media GuideThe original Arena Football League was a patented 50-yard indoor football game system developed by a former NFL employee named Jim Foster.  Foster first came up with the idea while watching a Major Indoor Soccer League match at Madison Square Garden in 1981.  It took six years for Foster to fully develop the concept and launch the league in 1987. The first season was modest but Arena Football had an ESPN contract for that first campaign, which helped Foster’s strange little league gain a modest measure of national attention.

The league muddled along in fits and starts through the rest of the 1980’s and most of the 1990’s.  Towards the end of the Nineties a sequence of events came together to raise Arena Football’s profile.  In 1998, ABC broadcast Arena Bowl XII to a national broadcast audience on Wide World of Sports.  Two years later, a former grocery store clerk and Arena Football star named Kurt Warner rose from obscurity to win first the St. Louis Rams’ quarterback job and then MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXIV.

As the 2000’s dawned, Arena Football franchise valuations shot upwards.  Expansion fees increased from $250,000 in 1993 to $16.2 million in 2003.  A national broadcast contract with NBC made the league sexier to speculators, as did the influx of investment from the National Football League.  Eventually six NFL ownership groups would purchase Arena Football franchises in the early 2000’s: the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans.

1991 Arena Football League Media GuideFor a time the league gorged on fat expansion fees and trumpeted rising attendance, which helped to paper over large operational losses. But by the mid-2000’s, the expansion pipeline began to dry up.  The Lions, Saints and Titans shuttered their Arena League franchises. The bubble burst when the 2009 season was cancelled as league attempted a financial restructuring. The effort failed and the original league closed down and filed for bankruptcy in August 2009.

Throughout the 2000’s, the Arena Football League had an affiliated “minor league” known as AF2, which ran lower-budget clubs in small markets like Shreveport, Spokane and Tulsa.  A group of AF2 investors plus a few of the non-NFL investors in the original Arena League banded together to purchase the intellectual property rights to Arena Football from the bankruptcy court for $6.1 million in late 2009.

This group of owners re-launched the Arena Football League in 2010 and claims the records and history of the original 1987-2008 league.  In a few cases, franchise names and owners carried over between the two leagues. But for the most part, the new league is substantially poorer and less disciplined than the original organization.  Today, Arena Football’s attendance, sponsorship and media prospects are markedly diminished from where the sport stood a decade ago. In effect, the sport has returned to the “muddling along” status of the early 1990’s.

Arena Football League Directory

1987-2008 Franchise List

Franchise Years Active Tagged Posts
Albany Firebirds 1990-2000 Tagged Posts
Anaheim Piranhas 1996-1997 Tagged Posts
Arizona Rattlers 1992-2008 Tagged Posts
Austin Wranglers 2004-2007 Tagged Posts
Buffalo Destroyers 1999-2003 Tagged Posts
Carolina Cobras 2000-2004 Tagged Posts
Charlotte Rage 1992-1996 Tagged Posts
Chicago Bruisers 1987-1989 Tagged Posts
Chicago Rush 2001-2008 Tagged Posts
Cincinnati Rockers 1992-1993 Tagged Posts
Cleveland Gladiators 2008 Tagged Posts
Cleveland Thunderbolts 1992-1994 Tagged Posts
Colorado Crush 2003-2008 Tagged Posts
Columbus Destroyers 2004-2008 Tagged Posts
Columbus Thunderbolts 1991 Tagged Posts
Connecticut Coyotes 1995-1996 Tagged Posts
Dallas Desperados 2002-2008 Tagged Posts
Dallas Texans 1990-1993 Tagged Posts
Denver Dynamite 1987 & 1989-1991 Tagged Posts
Detroit Drive 1988-1993  Tagged Posts
Detroit Fury 2001-2004 Tagged Posts
Florida Bobcats 1996-2001 Tagged Posts
Fort Worth Cavalry 1994 Tagged Posts
Georgia Force 2002-2008 Tagged Posts
Grand Rapids Rampage 1998-2008 Tagged Posts
Houston Thunderbears 1998-2001 Tagged Posts
Indiana Firebirds 2001-2004 Tagged Posts
Iowa Barnstormers 1995-2000 Tagged Posts
Kansas City Brigade 2006-2008 Tagged Posts
Las Vegas Gladiators 2003-2007 Tagged Posts
Las Vegas Sting 1994-1995  Tagged Posts
Los Angeles Avengers 2000-2008 Tagged Posts
Los Angeles Cobras 1988 Tagged Posts
Maryland Commandos 1989 Tagged Posts
Massachusetts Marauders 1994 Tagged Posts
Memphis Pharaohs 1995-1996 Tagged Posts
Miami Hooters 1993-1995 Tagged Posts
Milwaukee Mustangs 1994-2001 Tagged Posts
Minnesota Fighting Pike 1996 Tagged Posts
Nashville Kats 1997-2001 & 2005-2007 Tagged Posts
New England Sea Wolves 1999-2000 Tagged Posts
New England Steamrollers 1988 Tagged Posts
New Jersey Gladiators 2001-2002 Tagged Posts
New Jersey Red Dogs 1997-2000 Tagged Posts
New Orleans Night 1991-1992 Tagged Posts
New Orleans Voodoo 2004-2005 & 2007-2008  Tagged Posts
New York Cityhawks 1997-1998 Tagged Posts
New York Dragons 2001-2008 Tagged Posts
New York Knights 1988  Tagged Posts
Oklahoma Wranglers 2000-2001 Tagged Posts
Orlando Predators 1991-2008  Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Soul 2004-2008 Tagged Posts
Pittsburgh Gladiators 1987-1990  Tagged Posts
Portland Forest Dragons 1997-1999 Tagged Posts
Sacramento Attack 1992 Tagged Posts
San Antonio Force 1992 Tagged Posts
San Jose Sabercats 1995-2008 Tagged Posts
St. Louis Stampede 1995-1996 Tagged Posts
Tampa Bay Storm 1991-2008 Tagged Posts
Texas Terror 1996-1997  Tagged Posts
Toronto Phantoms 2001-2002 Tagged Posts
Utah Blaze 2006-2008  Tagged Posts
Washington Commandos 1987 & 1990 Tagged Posts

 

2010-Present Franchise List

Franchise Years Active Home Page Tagged Posts
Alabama Vipers 2010 Tagged Posts
Arizona Rattlers 2010-Present Tagged Posts
Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings 2010 Tagged Posts
Chicago Rush 2010-2013 Tagged Posts
Cleveland Gladiators 2010-Present Tagged Posts
Dallas Vigilantes 2010-2011 Tagged Posts
Georgia Force 2011-2012 Tagged Posts
Iowa Barnstormers 2010-2014 Tagged Posts
Jacksonville Sharks 2010-2016 Tagged Posts
Kansas City Command 2011-2012 Tagged Posts
Las Vegas Outlaws 2015 Tagged Posts
Los Angeles Kiss 2014-2016 Tagged Posts
Milwaukee Iron 2010 Tagged Posts
Milwaukee Mustangs 2011-2012  Tagged Posts
New Orleans Voodoo 2011-2015 Tagged Posts
Orlando Predators 2010-2016  Tagged Posts
Philadelphia Soul 2011-Present Tagged Posts
Pittsburgh Power 2010-2014  Tagged Posts
Portland Steel 2016 Tagged Posts
Portland Thunder 2014-2015 Tagged Posts
San Antonio Talons 2012-2014 Tagged Posts
San Jose Sabercats 2011-2015 Tagged Posts
Spokane Shock 2010-2015 Tagged Posts
Tampa Bay Storm 2010-Present Tagged Posts
Tulsa Talons 2010-2011 Tagged Posts
Utah Blaze 2010-2013 Tagged Posts
Washington Valor 2017-Present Tagged Posts

Written by AC

March 25th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

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