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The seemingly unkillable Arena League is coming back for another go in 2024 after a five-year hiatus.
The AFL, which originally formed in 1986, filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and hasn’t played a season since. In 2022, however, F1 Sports & Entertainment — no, not that F1; it stands for Force1 — bought the league and is reviving it next year.
“Our objective when we acquired the AFL was to bring back a storied brand that deserved to be revived and showcased again, globally,” AFL president Anthony Rossi said in a statement.
“We envisioned executing on the old saying ‘Bigger and Better,’ but this time, we want to incorporate the components of a modern-day business – streaming, betting, technology, virtual reality, and immerse fan engagement mixed with good old-fashioned iron-man football.”
The news of the relaunch didn’t give many details other than that the league will feature 16 teams playing 10-game schedules.
When the league filed for Bankruptcy in 2019 it had 6 just teams. They were located in Columbus, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlantic City, and Albany. There was no word on what markets the league hopes to set up shop in this time around.
Lee A. Hutton III will serve as the league’s commissioner. Hutton is a Minneapolis-based lawyer who has been involved in NFL contract negotiations and NIL cases.
“The Arena Football League brand has always sat at the promontory of indoor football by offering gridiron entertainment, fast action, and iron tough athletes in conjunction with delivering a family fun fan experience that uniquely engages the pig skin enthusiast,” Hutton said in a statement.
The Arena Football League Might Have Some Competition
I’ve been to a couple of arena football games in my day and they were fun. There’s something about adding boards to football that is just fun. Plus, the occasional fan interference along the sidelines makes things interesting.
The AFL is definitely going to offer cheaper tickets than the NFL, so catching a game would be a fun, inexpensive night out. I know if they decide to plop a team near me, I’d check it out.
We live in a Golden era of non-NFL football leagues. the USFL and the XFL will both be operating this spring. This means the Arena Football League is entering a somewhat crowded market.
However, I think they offer a different enough product and can play in smaller markets that they may not be in direct competition. There are a lot of medium-sized markets that may not be equipped to host USFL or XFL teams. But, they may have the facilities for an arena football team.
The Arena Football League could potentially explore that option. They did last time and could return to cities like Albany and Atlantic City.
But perhaps the biggest question surrounding the league’s return is this: will John Bon Jovi be returning as an owner?
Follow On Twitter: @Matt_Reigle