And so we bid a teary adieu to the Arena Football League. Sad, really. Even though I attended only one of your games, I will miss you: Your comical end zone cargo netting, your basketball-like scores, your former UC Davis quarterback Mark Griebs. You had a good run. Now it’s the UFL’s turn.
In the end, news of the AFL’s final demise came the way we always thought it would: On Facebook. Tampa Bay Storm COO Jim Borghesi announced that the league was officially folding on his Facebook page on Saturday, and PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that it has sources that confirm that. So the plan to sit out 2009 and come back in 2010 has been thrown aside, and Football In Your Parents’ Garage is no more.
When last we heard from the league, it was trying to generate $12 million to keep from filing chapter 11 and having a hope to return in 2010. Powerful luminaries such as Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi tried to move heaven and earth to save it. In July he told the NEW YORK TIMES:
“We’re on the brink of the abyss,” Bon Jovi said. “I can tell you thousands of man hours are spent trying hard to keep those players employed and keep our fans satisfied. This is my first comment about this process and I’m already regretting giving it to you because I don’t want to talk out of school. We all love it so much that we are working. I swear to you we are working every day.”
So the three huge contributing factors in this death seem to be these: No one had enough faith in the long-term stability of the league to invest some bucks; no team in Los Angeles (the LA Avengers folded last year, leaving the AFL with 15 teams), and, biggest of all perhaps, ESPN said recently that it had no plans to televise any AFL games if the league came back in 2010. And ESPN televises women’s college basketball and bass fishing.
Sort of an odd turn of events for a league which has been around for more than two decades, and only a year ago was planning expansion into seven cities, including Boston and San Francisco, and placing franchises in Germany and The Netherlands.
A press conference is expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to PFT.