AFL cancels 2009 season; future remains murky
Posted 5h 52m ago
By Skip Wood, USA TODAY
At least for now.
Founded in 1987, the Arena Football League announced Monday it will shelve the 2009 season and will work toward "improving its economic model."
The long-term future of the league is, at best, murky.
THE HUDDLE: Likelihood of teams folding drove cancellation
Lack of revenue and increasingly difficult financial conditions forced the league to, at least temporarily, pull the plug on the 16-team league, which included several franchises headed by NFL team owners.
David Baker, the AFL's long-time commissioner resigned in July just two days before the ArenaBowl, the league's version of the Super Bowl.
League officials attempted last week to put a happy and defiant face on reports of the AFL's potential demise, but in the end, there was no escaping the inevitable.
Raymond Sauer, a professor of economics at Clemson and one of the founders of The Sports Economist blog, paints a dark picture.
"We have an entire league going under this month," he says. "Any of the sports which are not commercial successes yet are threatened. The financing won't be there. That's where fans will cut back first because they don't have a strong attachment to new things.
"They'll stick with the Green Bay Packers, the iconic franchises in sports. But if it's something people do just to try something new, or on a lark, you won't see that in the current economic environment."
Even so, the arenafootball2 league (af2), a development league of the AFL, remains up and running. Yet Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, finds himself looking for remedies as owner of the AFL's Dallas Desperados.
"Our involvement with the Arena Football League was always geared toward promoting football on a year-round basis," he says.
"Our experience with the Desperados has accomplished those goals and has been very positive. As we move forward, we will explore all of the options that are available in regard to the future of the AFL and the Desperados."
Contributing: Mike McCarthy AFL cancels 2009 season; future remains murky - USATODAY.com