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Original Sports
Published: Dec 10, 2008
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Report: Arena Football League To Suspend 2009 Season
by Rich Cannon


The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that the Arena Football League is set to announce a suspension of play, starting with next season, something that could lead to an end to the league altogether.

The league has been around since 1987 and had evolved into a 16-team, summer football fix for fans all over the country.  They recently signed a new TV contract with ESPN that gave the network a stake in the company.  The deal was supposed to give the league more stability with more visibility, something it had been steadily losing over the years.

Apparently it wasn't enough.  Commissioner David Baker resigned in July.  Tom Benson, owner of the NFL's New Orleans Saints announce in October that he would fold up his team.  Last week talks between the league and Platinum Equity collapsed with $100 million at stake and a 40% percent share. 

Despite other big names like John Elway, Bernie Kosar, Jon Bon Jovi and other NFL owners heading up franchises, the league's economic problems had already led to delays in the dispersal draft of the VooDoo players, the release of the 2009 schedule, and the start of free agency.

Bad press also didn't help when two sources inside the league told the Denver Post that without help the league would fold by December 19th.  Colorado Crush executive vice president Michael Young told the Post, "The business model for the league is broken."

The once immensely popular league helped some NFL players start or resurrect their careers, Kurt Warner being the most famous, and even prompted a spin-off, AFL2, minor league to smaller market cities.

Arena football is played in venues usually reserved for basketball on hockey on a 50-yard artificial turf field that boasts no out of bounds, fast play and a more fan friendly environment.


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