Indoor Football Expansion: Part Two
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.
Long Island, New York
Long Island is full of rich AFL history, all courtesy of the New York Dragons. After the 2000 AFL season, the Iowa Barnstormers relocated to New York. The team’s first season was a successful one as the team went 8-6 as they lost to the Toronto Phantoms in the AFL Wild Card Round. New York would recess the next season, putting up a measly 3-11 record, missing the playoffs. The 2003 season would see the Dragons go 8-8, winning the Eastern Division as the team would fall to the Orlando Predators in the Quarterfinals. A controversy would surround the team and the AFL playoffs as they won the Eastern Division but missed the playoffs due to the top eight teams qualifying for playoffs via record with no guarantees because of who won the division (this was revised the next season). Despite a successful 2005 season where the team went 10-6, they would lose in the National Conference Semifinals. The 2006 campaign would bring another 10-6 record and another early playoff exit. In 2007 the team would recess as New York would miss the playoffs. The 2008 season would be the team’s last as they went 8-8, falling to the Philadelphia Soul in the National Conference Divisional Playoffs. Long Island was home to the National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) New York Saints in 1989-2003. The island was also home to the New York Arrows indoor soccer team from 1978-1984. There are two venues in the Long Island area that fit my criteria. You first have the Island Garden and secondly, the historic Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. With the largest media market in the United States, I could see a NAL or AFL team there in the near future.
Throughout the history of the indoor and arena football, there has never been a team that played their games in the Bean City. However, this doesn’t eliminate the city from being looked at. The city has been home to the Boston Blazers indoor box lacrosse team from 1992-1997 and a newer team under the same name from 2009-2013. The city is home to three good venues in Agganis Arena, Matthews Arena and the TD Center. I could see AFL or NAL expanding to the city sometime in the future as Beantown has the ninth largest media marked in the USA.
St Paul-Minneapolis , Minnesota
St. Paul-Minneapolis has been home to two indoor/arena teams over the area’s history. The first of them was the Minnesota Fighting Pike, who played in the AFL in 1995. The area was also home to the LFL’s Minnesota Valkyrie from 2011-2013. From 2005-2015, the Minnesota swarm played in the NLL. With the Target Center and Xcel Energy Center both having over 17,000 seats I could see the IFL targeting the 15th largest US media market in the future.
San Jose California
San Jose has held two indoor/arena teams in the past. The first of which was the San Jose Sabercats of the AFL. The team would last from 1995-2008, 2011-2015. They brought home four ArenaBowls. To help fill the void the SaberCats left before returning in 2011, the San Jose Wolves joined the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) in 2010 as the team went 9-5, making it to the AIFA Semifinals, losing to the Wyoming Cavalry. The Wolves would become independent and relocate to Stockton in 2011. The city would also be home to the NLL’s San Jose Stealth from 2004-2009 and the AHL’s San Jose Barracudas since 2015. With the SAP Center at San Jose has a viable venue and the United States’ eighth largest media market, I can see the IFL expanding to the city soon.
Rochester, New York
Rochester has been home to three indoor/arena teams in the past. The first of which was the Rochester Brigade in the af2, who joined in 2001. Rochester’s 2001 cpmain was a bust as they went 4-12. In 2002, the team had their best season, going 7-9 and losing to the Albany Firebirds. The 2003 season would be the last for the Brigade as they went 3-13 and folded in the offseason. In 2006, the Rochester Raiders became a charter member of the Great Lakes Indoor Football League (which later became the CIFL). The team went 8-4 as they defeated the Port Huron Pirates for the league championship. In 2007, the team repeated as they went 10-2 en route to defeating the Michigan Pirates, 37-27. In 2008, the team went 12-0 but quit the league and would jump to the IFL. The team went 9-5 before losing to the RiverCity Rage in a United Conference Wild Card game. Rochester would once again go 9-5 but lose to the Wichita Wild in the United Conference Semifinals The team would take a hiatus until 2014 when Rochester joined the AIF. They went 4-4 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Mariners. After the season, the team folded. The Rochester Kings played their first season in the Can-Am Indoor Football League in 2017. Rochester would lose the league championship game. In 2018 the team moved to the American Arena League (AAL). The team wouldn’t finish the season but would come back in Elite Indoor Football (EIF) for the 2019 season. Rochester has been home to NLL’s Nighthawks from 1995-2019 (a new team of the same name has replaced them) and the AHL’s Rochester Americans since 1956. I could see the NAL, AFL or revived AIF play in the city. With Blue Cross Arena, Main Street Armoury, The Gene Polisseni Center and The Dome Arena as quality venues, I think we could see a team the 80th largest media market in the nation.