Arena Football’s Hail Mary

Just months after a statement was released suspending Arena Football operations, commissioner Jerry Kurtz announced plans to give the sport another lease on life with the formation of a new league headquartered in Tulsa, Okla.

Arena Football 1, which will feature teams from the former AFL and arenafootball2 leagues, is expected to begin play in 2010 with at least 16 teams. One will likely be ArenaBowl champion Philadelphia Soul, co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi. The announcement of the new league was made by the Soul’s other owner, Craig Spencer.

“The owners of the AFL realize we have the most fan-friendly, affordable and accessible sport anywhere,” Spencer said in a statement. “The process of revamping our business model will ensure that the AFL continues to provide value to its fans, not only surviving in the years to come, but thriving. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am excited that we are close to bringing this great game back to the fans.”

Other former AFLers joining the new league include teams from Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.; Utah; Arizona; Milwaukee; Fresno, Calif.; and Chicago, according to Tulsa’s KTUL News.

Af2 teams making the switch to the new league come from Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Bossier-Shreveport, La., Kennewick, Wash., Des Moines, Iowa, Arkansas and Kentucky, among others.

Arena Football 1 officials said 24 other teams have submitted applications to join the league, which will be finalized by mid-October, KTUL reported.