Top 10 Forgotten Arena Football Leagues
Indoor and arena football are notorious for seeing leagues pop-up and fold as quickly as they came. Today, I will go over ten of the leagues that fell to the sands of time.
10) Supreme Indoor Football
The number ten slot goes to the most recent league to be featured on this list, Supreme Indoor Football (SIF). Founded by Barbara Springer, the owner of the Cape Fear Heroes. The SIF was supposed to be part of the launch of the Indoor Football Alliance in 2015. This would have included a revived Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). Since the CIFL never came back and the SIF was forced to push back its launch date to April of 2017. The league comprised of Triangle Torch, Upstate Dragons, Cape Fear Heroes and Cap City Bulls were the four members of the league. With both Upstate and Cap City as travel-only teams, it was clear the SIF was going to be a short-lived league. Though Springer wanted to turn the SIF into a summer developmental league, that never came to fruition as the league folded and all teams that played in the season joined or became affiliated with the American Arena League with varying results.
9) Intense Football League
At number nine I had a hard time deciding between United Indoor Football and the Intense Football League (IFL), but in the end I went with the IFL. The league first took the field in 2004 with all the teams being located in Texas. Everything culminated in the Intense Bowl where the Amarillo Dusters defeated the Lubbock Lone Stars 62-47. The IFL decided to forego the 2005 campaign. In 2006 the league was back and finally expanded out of the Lone Star State with the Louisiana Swashbucklers. However, it would be the Odessa Roughnecks who would win Intense Bowl II. The 2007 season was best remembered for two things. The first was the Louisiana Swashbucklers winning Intense Bowl III. The second thing the season was remembered for is becoming the first league to place a professional football team in Alaska with the Wild being put in Anchorage. The 2008 season would be the league’s last as the Louisiana Swashbucklers repeated as champions. The IFL would have one last game as the Swashbucklers played United Indoor Football’ Sioux Falls Storm. So what makes this league so forgettable? The merger of United Indoor Football and the Intense Football League lead to the current incarnation of the Indoor Football League. But since the Indoor Football League has been around for so long very few people remember the leagues that helped it become the giant it is today.
8) Indoor Professional Football League
The Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL) had its first season in 1999 as Dick Sues hoped to see his league flourish. With six teams, the season went down without a hitch as the Hawaii Hammerheads defeated the Texas Terminators 28-13 for the league championship. The IPFL had seven teams for the 2000 campaign. The Season culminated as the Mississippi Fire Dogs took down the Portland Prowlers. By the time the 2001 season came around, it was clear the IPFL was on its last legs as only five teams took the field and only two teams finished with a winning record. There were no playoffs, but rather just a championship game where the Tennessee ThunderCats defeated the Omaha Beef, 47-38.
7) Professional Indoor Football League (1998)
The Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) became only the second league to play an indoor or arena variant of american football (being second to only the Arena Football League). Founded by Dick Suess, the PIFL took the field for the first time in 1998. The leagues consisted of eight teams. The PIFL became the first indoor or arena league to put a team outside the continental 48 states with the Honolulu Hurricanes. However, with all this promise there were still issues with the league. The Minnesota Monsters and Texas Bullets both folded during the season and the Utah Catzz forfeited their final game. Contrary to the regular season, the playoffs went smoothly as the Louisiana Bayou Beast defeated the Madison Mad Dogs 42-41 for the title. The PIFL also was looking to start a European division. Though the division itself never materialized, the Green Bay Bombers and Madison Mad Dogs defeated the United Kingdom-based Great Britain Spartans. Also, the Arena Football League (AFL) filed a lawsuit against the PIFL for patent infringement. The lawsuit was eventually dropped as the PIFL and AFL reached a settlement agreement. However, with all this drama, it wasn’t surprising that the PIFL wouldn’t return for a 1999 campaign.
6) American Professional Football League
The American Professional Football League (APFL) was a troubled league that played from 2003 through 2013. From 2003 through 2008, the only champions the APFL would haver were the Kansas Koyotes (one of the titles came via a forfeit). The Iowa Blackhawks won back to titles in 2009 and 2010. From 2011 through 2012 it was the now Champions Indoor Football team, Sioux City Bandits turn to reign as league champions. The final league champions were the North Texas Crunch. Though the league folded it’s still notable the Koyotes signing Abby Vestal. She would become the first woman to score points in a men’s professional football league, accomplishing the feat on April 23, 2007, as she kicked two extra points.
5) Women’s Arena Football League
Founded by Ivan Tompkins the Women’s Arena Football League (WAFL) was a short-lived female league. The league was made to be a more family-friendly alternative to the Legends Football League (LFL). One piece of the game the WAFL took from the LFL for the inaugural season in 2013, the league decided to forgo goalposts. With six teams in the southeast United States, the league took the field with a smooth run. The season culminated with the Diva Bowl (the league’s championship) where the Houston Lady Oilers defeated the Louisiana Bayou Queens. The Diva Bowl would be the league’s final game. Though the league has teased a return, nothing has been confirmed.
4) World Indoor Football League (2007)
Harry Pierce founded the World Indoor Football League (WIFL) in 2007 as an offshoot of the troubled American Indoor Football League. The league consisted of the Columbus Lions, Daytona Beach Thunder, Augusta Spartans and Osceola Ghostriders. Daytona Beach made news in the indoor football world as they signed Barry Wagner. Tragically, Javon Camron of the Thunder suffered a fatal injury in a helmet-to-helmet block during a game. The season ended with the Augusta Spartans defeating the Columbus Lions 63-60 to win World Indoor Bowl I. After the 2007 season, the league folded.
3) Independent Indoor Football Alliance
The Independent Indoor Football Alliance (IIFA) was a Texas-based league that operated from 2008 to 2011. In 2008, the league fielded seven teams for its first season. However, the beginning of league play wasn’t without its hiccups, as the Texas Rough Riders and Harris County Militia both were announced as members but they didn’t play. The Kaufman Country Crunch defeated the Galveston Thunderstorm in Alliance Bowl I for the league title. In 2009, the league shrunk to five teams and by the end of the season, only the North Texas Crunch (formerly the Kaufman Country Crunch) ended with a winning record. With that, it wasn’t surprising that the Crunch beat the Texas Wranglers 52-12 in Alliance Bowl II. The 2010 season upped the number of teams from five to nine. Sadly, the field of teams was once again very lopsided as only three teams ended up with a winning record. The Crunch took on the Southlake Pirates in Alliance Bowl III. Once again it was the Crunch that came out on top, winning 10 to eight. In the 2011 season, the IIFA joined forces with teams in the west division of American Indoor Football. Unfortunately, the Conroe Jaguars were announced and didn’t play. A league first occurred that season as the Crunch was not in the championship game. Alliance Bowl IV was played between the East Texas Wrangler and Southlake Pirates where the Wranglers came out on top in a 40-14 win.
From here on out we go to leagues so forgotten they never even took a snap. You will not see Gregg Fornario’s Professional Arena Football (PAF) as some people still want that to return and it hasn’t fully disappeared since they still have an Instagram page. These next leagues are two blink and you miss it organizations.
2) World Indoor Football League (1988)
The World Indoor Football League (WIFL) was a proposed league that was going to field six teams beginning in 1988. The West Conference was to consist of the Las Vegas Aces, San Diego Thunder and San Antonio Texicans. The East Conference was to include the Indiana Cougars, St. Louis Lightning and Baltimore War Eagles (which was called the Pride in local papers). The WIFL planned to have a ten-game season culminating the World Bowl. Players were set to make $500 a game or one third of ticked revenue, whichever was higher. The league was to have offense field eight players and only seven defenders. Another positive the league seemed to have was a television deal with FNN-SCORE. With coaches including Mouse Davis everything looked to be going well for the new league until 11 days before play was to begin as Baltimore, San Antonio and Indiana folded. With no desire to field a three-team league the WIFL’s remaining teams tried to become expansion teams in the Arena Football League (AFL). However, the expansion fees were in the seven-figure range (allegedly to deter the teams from joining) and none of the teams ever joined the AFL. The Arena Football League would have no competition in the industry until 1998.
1) Stadius Football Association
If you have never heard of the Stadius Football Association (SFA) I’m not surprised. Very little is know about the once-proposed league and there are very few sources on the league as the Fort Wayne FireHawks were the only team to officially join. The league’s press release came out on June 30th, 2011, one year before the league was set to kick off. Indianapolis sports attorney David Seiter was the SFA’s inaugural president. The league was to consist of ten through 16 teams in the midwest. The Dayton Silverbacks, Cincinnati Commandos, Northern Kentucky River Monsters and Marion Blue Racers all showed interest in joining. Other cities the SFA looked at putting teams in were Bloomington, Illinois; Corbin, Kentucky; Erie, Pennsylvania; Louisville, Kentucky; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Rockford, Illinois; Huntington, West Virginia; Toledo and/or Canton, Ohio. Games would have taken place from February and run through May with the title game in June.