The first professional sports demise of the economic recession isn't quite official yet. After nearly dumping its 2009 season just yesterday, Arena Football League officials have decided to postpone the decision and reconsider opening for business.
Hours after Los Angeles Avengers owner Casey Wasserman said he expected the season to be called off, the league's board of directors voted via conference call not to suspend the season "at this time." "The board will continue to meet regularly to examine any and all long-term structural improvement options for the AFL," the league said in a written statement after the vote. The season takes place from March to June.
Good news for the sport that's just like playing in your garage, only without the danger if sharp tools. The league's board of directors had said on Wednesday that cancellation of the 2009 season was imminent, due to a weakening economy and large financial losses.
Interestingly enough, you will be able to see the Green Bay Blizzard and Kentucky Horsemen for sure next season; Arena2 — the AFL's developmental league — is planning business as usual in 2009. The AFL has reshuffled franchises more than perhaps any pro sport — remember the Anahiem Piranhas and New Orleans Voodoo? — but up until this year looked to be in no particular danger. Founded in 1987, bringing the world wacky ideas such at the 50-yard-long field and goalside rebound nets, the league averaged 12,415 fans in 2007, and has been partnered with ESPN since 2006.
The word is that the players have been asked to take salary cuts so that the league can continue, but there has been no word so far from their union.
And this seems like an appropriate time to reflect on my favorite AFL franchise ever, the Minnesota Fighting Pike. Sadly, the did not fight hard enough.
Reports: Arena Football League To Cancel 2009 Season [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Arena Football League Reconsiders Suspending 2009 Season [Los Angeles Times]