The AAF is here this year and the new XFL is coming next year, but the Arena Football wants us to know it’s still around to offer spring time football.
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is giving football fans a way to watch the game during the NFL offseason right now, and a re-booted XFL is coming in 2020. But as leagues have come and gone, the Arena Football League is still going more than 30 years in.
The Arena League has had ups and downs, and the league was down to just four franchises in 2018. It’s up to six franchises this year, with teams added in Columbus and Atlantic City to go with the team in Albany that came aboard last year.
The expansion Albany Empire led the league in attendance last year, averaging over 9,700 fans per game.
Even while acknowledging his franchise was not profitable in its first year, and may not be profitable for a few years, Albany owner Dan Nolan is optimistic about the Arena Football League’s future.
According to Mike DeSocio of the Albany Business Review, Nolan think the Arena League could grow from the current six teams to 20 or 25 teams across the country in the coming years. More specifically in the short-term, four teams are likely coming in 2020.
By comparison, the AAF and XFL are starting with eight teams in their first seasons with some eye on eventual expansion. But as the Arena Football League has shown, through stages of celebrity ownership (Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS), financial viability is hard to maintain for a football league not named the NFL.
The 2019 Arena Football League season starts in April, with three games played per week for 13 weeks. If you’ve forgotten about the league that developed Kurt Warner and had a star quarterback named Jay Gruden, it’s a unique brand of football played on a 50-yard field with nets around narrow goal posts and fans in close proximity to the action.