New arena football league in the works

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Get the scoreboard warmed up. Arena football is making a comeback.

A news conference is planned Monday to announce the formation of a new league called Arena Football 1 with teams from the former AFL and arenafootball2 leagues.

"The owners meetings are Monday morning, and they're really going to line everything out on Monday morning as far as how the divisions go and what teams from the AFL are actually going to join Arena Football 1 and what teams from AF2 are going to join," said Troy Thompson, director of operations for the Arkansas Twisters.

Representatives of the af2 teams in Oklahoma City, Arkansas, and Spokane, Wash., all confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that they intend to participate. Iowa's af2 franchise also plans to send a representative to the meetings.

"There's still a lot that's going to be finalized over the weekend but everyone's excited about the movement of the league," Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz general manager Christie Cook said.

The old AFL canceled its 2009 season before eventually folding in August, ending a 22-year run for the high-scoring indoor brand of football that helped launch the career of NFL MVP and Super Bowl winner Kurt Warner. Play in af2 was never disrupted, but teams ended the season unsure of what would happen next.

"When the AFL went bankrupt and dissolved the AFL, because the af2 was an arm of the AFL, af2 in a sense was dissolved as well. This is basically the af2 reforming itself, and then from there, whatever they're going to do with the remaining AFL teams that want to continue to play," Thompson said.

The AFL had 17 teams during the 2008 season, but the Los Angeles and New Orleans franchises folded before the 2009 season was canceled. There were another 25 teams in af2 last season.

"There could be an upper tier and a lower tier in Arena Football 1, almost like college football has a Division I and a Division II," Thompson said. "Arena Football 1 could have a Division I and a Division II. That's still kind of unclear."

Jerry Kurz, the commissioner of af2, did not immediately return telephone calls from The Associated Press on Thursday. Senior director of team development Ron Armour also did not return messages.

"It's a higher level of football than the af2. It is going to be closely akin to the AFL," said Kevin Maloney, spokesman for the Spokane Shock - winners of this year's ArenaCup given to the af2 champions.

"It will be the best brand of arena football there is in the world."

Cook said training camps will open in March and a 16-week season will begin in either late March or early April, the same basic timeframe as before for the leagues - filling the football void opposite the NFL and college seasons.

Maloney said the business model of the new league will closely mimic that of af2, with players all receiving the same salary.

Beyond the high-scoring games that made it onto network television, the original Arena Football League made headlines with owners that included Jon Bon Jovi, Mike Ditka and John Elway. Teams were located in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and other major markets.


AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Little Rock, Ark., and Associated Press Writer Murray Evans in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.


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