SWX - Shock, Tri-Cities join new Arena Football 1 - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Spokane Shock

Shock, Tri-Cities join new Arena Football 1 league

Shock head coach Rob Keefe talks with SWX's Sam Adams at the SWX studios at the Q at Northern Quest Resort about today's announcement (Photo: SWX) Shock head coach Rob Keefe talks with SWX's Sam Adams at the SWX studios at the Q at Northern Quest Resort about today's announcement (Photo: SWX)

The Spokane Shock and Tri-Cities Fever will join the newly-formed Arena Football 1 league.  The announcement was made at a news conference Monday afternoon at Tulsa, Okla.

The Shock and Fever join 14 other teams in the new league, including several teams from the defunct Arena Football League (AFL).  Teams include Tulsa, Bossier-Shreveport, Huntsville (Tennessee Valley), Fresno, Orlando, Arizona, Milwaukee, Utah, Arkansas, Chicago, Iowa, Jacksonville, Kentucky and Oklahoma City.  More teams will be announced Oct. 9.  The Arena Football 1 league will be headquartered in Tulsa.

"We welcome the challenge," said Shock head coach Rob Keefe, who was just hired last week.  "We welcome it. I'm just happy the ownership has taken this step to go to the new level."

The game itself will be the same in 2010.  The same rule book used in last season's af2 games will be the rule book used in the new league.  And the season will be identical in length with eight home games.  Keefe said the new Spokane team would likely be made up of several players with prior experience in the AFL.

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 Spokane Shock owner Brady Nelson was among several owners present at a news conference in Tulsa, Okla., the AF1's headquarters.

"There are a lot of things going on - a lot of people from across the country here, and they're excited about the new AF1," said Shock owner Brady Nelson.  "It's going to be a bright future ahead of us."

Nelson said plans for a two-tiered league is still under consideration and will become more clear as teams file the necessary and legal paperwork with the league.  A two-tiered league would ensure smaller teams wouldn't compete head-to-head with larger teams such as Phoenix and Chicago.  Other possible teams to join the league could be San Jose, Tampa Bay and others.

Until today, few details of the new league had been announced or discussed in public.  While Nelson said it would be a step up for Spokane, it most definitely would not be an end-all league for players looking to play professionally, and the new league would be comprised of at least 20 teams from across the country.

"The pay rate will be higher, but this is not going to be a destination league.  This will be a league where players will come to try to get to the NFL," Nelson said, pointing to the fact that the af2 send four players to the NFL this year.  He said the rate would be somewhat higher than what it was in the af2.

Something else that could be higher next year is the cost of a ticket to see a Spokane Shock game at Spokane Arena.  With the step up in competition comes a higher cost to the team in terms of expenses.

"There will be some cost increases, and we'll have to decide as an organization how to do this." said Brady by phone after the news conferece.  "But to join these bigger teams, we just couldn't pass up the opportunity to play at a higher level."

Brady said any modest price increase to fans would be "well warranted", and the price of admission to Shock football would remain a value by any definition.

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