I've always been a big fan of arena football for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that they played during the off-season of college football and the NFL so it gave me something to watch other than endless re-runs of "America's Game" on NFL Network. The second reason is because it's a ton of fun to watch. The fields are shorter and narrow, leading to faster play and higher scoring. The league isn't as uptight about things as the NFL is--players actually interact more with their fans at games than they can in the NFL.
The sport was invented in 1981 and patented in 1987 by James F Foster Jr, a former executive in both the NFL and USFL. The first game was played Jun 19, 1987 and the league originally had four teams (Pittsburgh Gladiators, Washington Commandos, Chicago Bruisers, and Denver Dynamite). By the mid 2000s the league had expanded to 15 teams, as well as a sort of "minor league" team, Arena Football 2.
Then financial troubles struck. Large debts and low profits forced the league to suspend games for the 2009 season, followed by Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and liquidation of all assets in December of 2009. Not long after the dissolution of AFL1, a group of owners and investors met to see what they could do about restoring arena football. On September 2008 they announced that a new league would be formed, consisting of remnants of AFL1, AFL2, and some new teams. The league will begin operations on April 2, 2010.
Arena Football has kept the rule book largely intact, but the business plan is different. It truly is a single-entity organization, with the league maintaining all rights to its teams. There are currently 15 teams in the league, with another 4 teams under consideration for expansion (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Denver, and Southern California). Some former AFL teams are also negotiating to return to football.
2010 AFL teams
The original AFL was broadcast on ESPN, though it was on ESPN2, so there was not much in the way of revenue generated nor was there a fan base created. As part of the league's restructuring, they reached an agreement with the NFL Network to broadcast a game weekly.
TV Schedule (all games begin 8pm EST)
- Week 1 -- April 2: Chicago Rush vs. Iowa Barnstormers
- Week 2 -- April 9: Cleveland Gladiators vs. Chicago Rush
- Week 3 -- April 16: Orlando Predators vs. Jacksonville Sharks
- Week 4 -- April 24 (Saturday): Oklahoma City Yard Dawgs vs. Iowa Barnstormers
- Week 5 -- April 30: Iowa Barnstormers vs. Orlando Predators
- Week 6 -- May 7: Jacksonville Sharks vs. Tampa Bay Storm
- Week 7 -- May 14: Utah Blaze vs. Milwaukee Iron
- Week 8 -- May 21: Arizona Rattlers vs. Iowa Barnstormers
- Week 9 -- May 28: Tampa Bay Storm vs. Orlando Predators
- Week 10 -- June 4: Jacksonville Sharks vs. Chicago Rush
- Week 11 -- June 11: Tulsa Talons vs. Dallas Vigilantes
- Week 12 -- June 18: Jacksonville Sharks vs. Orlando Predators
- Week 13 -- June 25: Bossier City/Shreveport Battlewings vs. Tampa Bay Storm
- Week 14 -- July 2: Chicago Rush vs. Tampa Bay Storm
- Week 15 -- July 9: Tampa Bay Storm vs. Dallas Vigilantes
- Week 16 -- July 16: Spokane Shock vs. Iowa Barnstormers
- Week 17 -- July 23: Chicago Rush vs. Spokane Shock
- Week 18 -- July 30: Tulsa Talons vs. Oklahoma City Yard Dawgs