Nov. 15, 2016
Two More Leave AFL, Arizona Could Follow
Just Wednesday the Orlando Predators folded and the Jacksonville Sharks announced their withdrawal from the Arena Football League with intentions to join a rival league. Friday the league lost two more teams to shrink to just five.
The rosters of the Portland Steel and LA KISS were placed into a dispersal draft Friday, effectively signalling the end of the two franchises without even a press release. The Steel had been run by the league without an owner in 2016 and with less owners left in the league, the cost to run the team would likely have been too burdensome on those remaining considering the AFL doesn't generate the revenues any of the five major leagues in the U.S. do. The LA KISS had been owned by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS, but the team stopped answering phone calls or posting anything to social media in recent weeks and had been presumed dead.
Neither loss comes as a total shock, although the last team left in question may be. The Arizona Rattlers are perennial Arena Bowl contenders and one of the better supported teams in the league. They participated in the dispersal draft, drafting players from the four departed teams, but their status for the 2017 season may not be so certain either as reports state the team filed an application to join the Indoor Football League and was accepted. The team must now determine which league it will play in for the 2017 season.
The remaining four teams, excluding the Rattlers, seem to be committed to playing the 2017 season with eyes set on a brighter future. Three of the four are owned by either NBA or NHL ownership groups: Cleveland (Cavaliers), Tampa Bay (Lightning) and Washington (Capitals and Wizards). The Philadelphia Soul are the other remaining franchise.