The world of Indoor Football certainly had a dicey offseason as we’re down to just four leagues. At the top of the pyramid, it has not been a good winter for the Arena Football League as the commissioner stepped down and the league lost four teams. One of them dropped to the IFL, while the other three ceased operations. The defending champion San Jose Sabercats were a surprising one as that Silicon Valley franchise was in place for 20 years. In 2016, the AFL will operate as an eight-team league and all of the positive energy from their relaunch six years ago has disappeared.
Consolidation is occurring in the lower levels with unstable leagues and teams diminishing as both the PIFL and X-League folded. I’m sure we’ll never get to a solid AFL1 and AFL2 as some overzealous rich person will continue to think that their league will be the one that makes it. Anyway, many of the franchises within the PIFL and X-League found different places to go, but there were some casualties of this mess. In the former, Alabama, Nashville, Trenton and Richmond folded. The last three had arenas on The List, but basketball tournaments keep each alive. While Trenton hosts the NJ High School Tournament of Champions, both Nashville and Richmond are home to college basketball conference tournaments. The folding of the Richmond Raiders particularly saddens me as this was the team that I saw at the Richmond Coliseum back in 2010. They did better than most indoor football franchises by surviving for over five years.
In the X-League, we have four teams out of commission. The loss of the Alabama Outlawz means that Birmingham’s Bill Harris Arena is off The List. Other franchises either folded or moved to a different league. As for the rest of indoor football, other changes include the addition of two franchises in the CIF. The Chicago Eagles will play out of UIC’s Pavilion, while we welcome a new arena to The List as Mesquite Arena is the home for the Mesquite Marshalls. This facility is geared towards Rodeo events, similar to other Texas arenas that host indoor football (San Angelo comes to mind, they also play in the same league).
American Indoor Football (AIF) had plenty of changes with several franchises gone, but many more joining. This league features expo centers, convention centers and fairgrounds…oh my! The addition of the Atlanta Vultures is interesting in that they will be playing in the Georgia International Convention Center, a place built in 2009 with absolutely no thought to hosting sporting events. I can’t even find what the capacity will be, but I’m guessing by looking at the meeting spaces map, it won’t be much. Speaking of Convention Center’s, Myrtle Beach will play in one, while up in Chicagoland, we’ll see the return of the Odeum Expo Center as the Chicago Blitz begin play in Villa Park. Dorton Arena on the site of the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh welcome the Triangle Torch, while the Annex on Winston-Salem’s Fairgrounds does the same. In Georgia, we’ll see the return of sporting events to a pair of small city Civic Centers in both Albany and Savannah, always welcomed news.