In addition to the games shown live on SWX this upcoming season, fans of the Spokane Shock will get chance to see two of this year's games on the NFL Network.
The Arena Football League, formerly known as the AF1, discussed its deal with the NFL Network this morning in a teleconference with the likes of Mike Ditka and Danny White, two well-known figures with close ties to arena football. The network will air a total of 18 regular season games in High Definition this spring and summer. Spokane will get the featured spot July 16 against the Iowa Barnstormers, and then again on July 23 against the Chicago Rush – the team co-owned by Ditka.
The TV deal was only part of the big announcement on Wednesday. The league also made official its new name: the AFL, or Arena Football League, taking on the name of the league that went bankrupt last year. After launching itself as the AF1 late last year, the new league secured all of the assets from the defunct AFL, including team names, trademarks and intellectual property and set up a new business model. The new league has all of the old AFL video rights, statistical information, as well as the championship game moniker – the Arena Bowl. And it only cost them a cool $6.1 million.
"The financial trouble the former league ran into was not due to a lack of fan interest and support," said league commissioner Jerry Kurz. "The demise of the former AFL was more of a function of a severe recession and rising league and team operational costs. Once we had the opportunity to work as a cohesive group of owners in developing the plan to retool the business model, it was an easy decision for the league to re-launch."
To further support the case for a re-launch, Kurz points to the record attendance at AFL games during the 2008 season – the last season the AFL was in operation. Games were played before an average crowd of almost 13,000 and 2008 was a record year for revenue. The new league and its owners believe there remains an exceptional demand for arena football, and the league could add more teams in time for the 2011 season. Kurz said serious negotiations are already underway with at least four teams.
"The game is as popular as it ever has been," said Tampa Bay Storm coach Tim Marcum in a news release issued Wednesday.
Marcum should know. He is the AFL's all-time winningest coach.