With all the recent talk about the brand-new AAF and the coming-back-next-year XFL, an alternative football league that has been around for more than 30 years and that helped develop a Hall of Fame quarterback would like you to know it still exists.
It’s the Arena Football League.
The indoor league shrunk to a handful of franchises in 2018, but Albany Empire owner Dan Nolan believes that it could grow from a current roster of six franchises to 20 or 25 in the coming years, according to Mike DeSocio of the Albany Business Review.
The Empire claims that it averaged 9.714 fans last year, leading the league in attendance.
“What you really hope for in a league like this is after a couple years you can break even,” Nolan said. “And if you have the kind of attendance that we have, I think eventually you can probably be profitable.”
From four teams last year to six in 2019, the league plans to add four teams next year. Still, the league has been anything but stable over its life cycle, with expansion and contraction and Kurt Warner playing quarterback for the Iowa Barnstormers and a full-fledged bankruptcy and an aggressive effort to return to prominence (including a team owned by the frontmen of KISS) and a recent back slide to a quartet of teams.
The Arena League, which plays its games on 50-yard fields with nets around the goalposts at each of the field, begins its new season in April, with teams in Albany, Washington, Baltimore, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and Columbus playing three total games per week for 13 weeks.