Indoor Football Expansion: Part Three
Every indoor/arena football offseason, teams jump leagues, are founded and fold. In this article I will go over cities that I think could be good fits for a team. For a city to be eligible to make the list. The city will have to sustain a box lacrosse team, a minor league hockey, and/or indoor/arena soccer league team for a minimum of five years in its respective league(s). These sports usually are in the same or similar sized markets. The city must be in the United States and not already have an indoor or arena team in the big four leagues which are the: National Arena League (NAL), Arena Football League (AFL), Indoor Football League (IFL) and Champions Indoor Football (CIF). The location must have at least 10,000 people from the most recent US census to qualify. The venues in the area must sit at least 3,500 people for ice hockey event (500 seats smaller than the smallest venue with hockey seating in Ralston Arena) and/or 5,000 for basketball for a location to qualify, since the smaller arena of the big four leagues hold 5,000 for basketball (in the Westchester County Center). A venue can’t currently have and indoor/arena team to be listed as it could cause scheduling issues.
Buffalo, New York
Another city with two former indoor/arena teams, the first of which was the Buffalo Destroyers who became an AFL expansion team in 1999. The team went 1-13. In 2000, the Destroyers went 5-9, squeaking into the playoffs where they would fall to the Arizona Rattlers in the wild card round. Despite the Destroyers going 6-8 in 2001, the team would miss the playoffs. In 2002, Buffalo would once again go 6-8 but this time, make the playoffs. The season would end the season in a loss to the Orlando Predators in the wild card round. Buffalo’s 2003 season was a downgrade as they went 5-1, missing the playoffs. After the season ended, the team would relocate to Columbus, Ohio. In 2015, the AIF welcomed the Buffalo Lightning to the league as the team went 1-7. For the 2016 season, the team became independent. By 2017, the team joined the Can-Am Indoor Football League, rebranded as the Blitz went 2-3, making it to the semi-finals where the team would lose to the Rochester Kings. After the season, the team folded. The city has been home to the NLL’s Bandits since 1992. With the 53rd largest media market behind the city and Alumni Arena and Keybank Center as possible venues, I could see the NAL or AIF coming to the city soon.
Connecticut has been home to more indoor and arena teams you might think. The first team to play in the state was the Coyotes in 1995. Connecticut’s first season was a bad one as the team went 1-11. The 1996 campaign wasn’t much better as the Coyotes went 2-12 before folding. After the 1998 AFL season the New York CityHawks moved to Hartford, Connecticut, rebranded as the New England Sea Wolves. The Sea Wolves went 5-9 in 1999, missing the playoffs. In 2000, the Sea Wolves went 8-5, making the playoffs but losing in the wild card round. The team would relocate after the season, moving to Toronto to become the Phantoms. In 2002 the af2 placed two teams in Connecticut. One of the teams was the New Haven Ninjas (which, as a Connecticut resident, I really don’t understand). The team went 6-10, missing the playoffs. With the New Haven Coliseum closing after the season, the team folded. The other in-state team was the Mohegan Wolves. Mohegan went a sad 3-13. In 2003, the team went 10-6, making it to the American Conference Semifinals where they lost the Tennessee Valley Vipers. The team would move to Manchester, New Hampshire after the season ended. Connecticut would get a travel team in the Can-Am Indoor Football League called the Chiefs. The team played one game but would fold after the season ended. Connecticut was home to the New Haven Nighthawks/Senators AHL team from 1972-1993. The state also has been home to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers since 2001 and Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale since 1997. Connecticut has hosted the NLL’s New England Black Wolves since 2014. With Mohegan Sun Arena, the XL Center, Webster Bank Arena and Harry A. Gampel Pavilion as viable venues, I could see the AFL or NAL expanding to the state and it’s 33rd largest media market soon.
Denver was another city with a charter AFL team, in the Dynamite, who began play in 1987. The team went 4-2 and won ArenaBowl I. The team would skip the 1988 season but would come back in 1989 as they went 3-1 where the lost to the Pittsburgh Gladiators in the semifinals. In 1990, the Dynamite went 4-4 and would once again lose in the semifinals, this time to the Dallas Texans. The team went 6-4 in 1991 where they would lose in the semifinals yet again. After the season, Dynamite folded. In the 1998 Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) season, the Colorado Wildcats moved into town. The team went 9-5 but lost in the semifinals and would fold after the season. In 2003 the AFL returned to the Mile High city with the Colorado Crush as the team went 2-14 and missed the playoffs. The 2004 season was a rebound year as the Crush went 11-5 and after a victory over the New orleans Voodoo in the quarterfinals, the team would fall to the Arizona Rattlers one week later. In 2005 the Crush would go 10-6 en route to an ArenaBowl XIX victory. The 2006 season would be a step back in success as despite an 11-5 record, the team fell to the Chicago Rush in the American Conference Divisional Playoffs. In 2007 the Crush would regress further as they went 8-8 and would lose to the San Jose SaberCats in the American Conference Divisional Playoffs. That same year the NIFL had a team in Denver called the Aviators went 1-1 before leaving the league. The 2008 Crush season would be the team’s last as they went 6-10 when once again they lost in the American Conference Divisional Playoffs. After the season the team would fold. Denver was home to the Spurs hockey team from 1968-1976 and has hosted toe NLL’s Colorado Mammoth since 2003. Pepsi Arena, Magness Arena and the Denver Coliseum are all nice venues that a team could play at. I could see the CIF or IFL expanding to the USA’s 17th largest media market.
Tacoma hasn’t been home to an indoor/arena team but has hosted other sports. First, there was the Tacoma Stars indoor soccer team that played from 1983-1992. The city was also home to the Western Hockey League’s Tacoma Rockets from 1991-1995. Tacoma would later host the West Coast Hockey League’s Tacoma Sabercats from 1997-2002 and a revived Stars indoor soccer team since 2003. The Tacoma Dome is a great venue with a capacity of 19,106. With the IFL making a push to have a largest West Coast presence, I could see them expanding to the USA’s 13th largest media market.
Ontario, California get its first taste of back in the LFL’s 2010-2011 season as the LFL’s Los Angeles Temptation went 4-0 en route to a Lingerie Bowl title. The team would repeat in the 2011-2012 season as they went 3-1. Another team joined the Ontario world of indoor football as the Warriors joined the AIF and went 7-0 before being suspended by the league. In the 2013 season the team went 2-1 but lost in the Conference Division Playoffs. The 2014 season would see the team going 2-2-1 as they fell to the Chicago Bliss in the Conference Championships. The team would relocate in 2015 as the LFL’s Las Vegas Sin moved into town as they went 0-4 and missed the playoffs. In 2016 the Temptation would return to Ontario as the team went 3-1, missing the playoffs. The 2017 season was a rebound for the team as they went 4-0 and lost in the Conference Championships. In 2018, the team went 1-3 but made the playoffs but lost in the Conference Championships. The team went 2-2 in 2019 once again making it to the Legends Cup.
The link to part one is here: http://afntalk.com/indoor-football-expansion-part-one
The link to part two is here: http://afntalk.com/indoor-football-expansion-part-two