Arena League Off, Then On

The Arena Football League was facing its demise, or at least a suspension of play, before the league’s board of directors voted Dec. 11 to keep going.

Big changes could still be in store, including a reduction in the number of teams, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, but everything appeared to be kosher at press time. Pete Likens, communications director for the Kansas City Brigade in Missouri, had told the Kansas City Star Dec. 10 that the AFL players’ union had agreed t to a league decision to forego the season and return in 2010.

The Grand Rapids Press in Michigan then reported the players’ union voted to cut the salary cap from $2 million to $1.4 million in order to save the season, but Phil Simon, spokesman for the San Jose SaberCats, which plays at the HP Pavilion and is one of the league’s most profitable teams, declined to comment to the Chronicle on the reports.

“All I can say is we’re continuing to do business,” he said. “I know nothing of the league’s demise. There’s a lot of erroneous information out there.”

The 16-team AFL has been dealing with instability since the July resignation of Commissioner David Baker, and a $100 million partnership deal with Platinum Equity LLC announced in October has yet to close. The league needed to secure financing by Dec. 19 or face possible dissolution, according to the Star.

Colorado Crush Executive VP Michael Young had told the Denver Post that the team wasn’t throwing in the towel.

“The only way this team would fold is if we disagree with the direction the league is going,” Young said. “If there is a league schedule, of course we’ll be playing in the 2009 season, and we’ll be playing in Denver [at the Pepsi Center].”

Officials with the Kansas City Brigade, which plays at the Sprint Center, also said they weren’t planning any changes, according to the Kansas City Star.

“Most teams in the league have not been profitable,” Likens told the paper. “Revenues have not met expenses. And with the economy the way it is, sponsorships have dropped off. It probably accelerated the problems.”

ArenaBowl champions The Philadelphia Soul, which plays at Saturn Field at Wachovia Center, is said to be conducting business as usual, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.