The Arena Football League has announced it is closing all team service and local business operations, according to a statement from league commissioner Randall Boe. According to the statement, the league has “not yet made a final determination that it will be necessary to suspend all League operations,” however, it does obviously not bode well for the league’s long term viability.
Founded in 1987, the league ran through 2008, including a minor league operation, called AF2, from 2000-2008. Financial difficulties caused the league to cancel the league’s 2009 season and disband the AF2, but the top operation returned in 2010 and continued until now. The recent upstart Alliance of American Football (AAF) failed to complete one season in operation even with large financial backers. Even if this is the end of the run for the AFL, it will still rank among the most successful leagues in recent history.
The leagues financial future seemed in jeopardy last month, when Boe announced the league was looking into becoming a traveling league in the vein of the BIG3 or the Premier Lacrosse League, however, it seems that will not be coming to fruition at least in the next year. The news does come as a bit of good news for the XFL and other leagues looking to break into the market for professional football. AFL players, coaches, facilities, and fans will all be looking for new opportunities. Interestingly, the Indoor Football League, which follows a very similar model to the AFL, is currently expanding, planning on creating a team in Oakland (owned by Marshawn Lynch) for the 2020 season.