Arena Football League Players Union Reach Agreement on CBA

March 16, 2018
Four-year deal will nearly double player compensation, expand health care coverage 

Las Vegas – The AFL and AFLPU announced today that they have reached a new four-year collective bargaining agreement, subject to final ratification by the players.   The deal will on average nearly double player compensation and will expand health care coverage for players while simultaneously positioning the League for growth and expansion opportunities.  The League is also announcing today that the free agency period will begin on Monday at 7:00 a.m. with players expected to sign immediately.  Training camp will open for the 2018 season on Saturday, March 24 th and the League is now focused on preparations for opening weekend on April 13 th and 14 th.   

  We believe passionately in this League,” said Ron Jaworski, Chairman of the AFL Executive Committee.  “We love the game, and our players and coaches show incredible talent, dedication and heart every time they step on the field.  We are thrilled that we were able to reach this agreement, and we look forward not only to an exciting 2018 season, but to big potential for League growth and expansion through new tech, digital and virtual gaming partnerships.  We are only just getting started.” 

Last month, the AFL announced exciting new playoff rules changes for the 2018 that guarantee the excitement of a home playoff game in every city and a new League-wide ticket pass that will give fans a chance to experience arena football in every market on the road.  Additional technology and virtual gaming-related partnership announcements are forthcoming soon. 

Statement from the AFLPU: 

“Our Arena Football League has a long history that includes many great chapters and a few challenging ones, however the agreement on the terms of this new CBA signals not only the end of a challenging chapter but the start of what we believe will be the catalyst of a whole new era for the AFL,” said AFLPU Executive President James Baron. "The AFLPU executives, board reps as well as both past and present players would like to thank the AFL bargaining team for their commitment to the process and to the work put in to be able to reach agreement.  A special thank you from Executive Director Ivan Soto to Randy Boe of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Ted Leonsis and especially Ron "Jaws" Jaworski for your consummate professionalism and "never give up" attitude which helped us get the ball across the line with not much time left on the clock.  The players have always been 100% committed and upon ratification of the deal they will have an opportunity to compete for their value as well as have access to health care and other valuable terms contained in the new CBA. The AFLPU is excited to help grow the League with our ownership partners and build it in a sustainable yet innovative way to provide the best value and experience for all of the dedicated AFL fans that have been there supporting the AFL through every chapter of AFL history.” 


The Tampa Bay Storm Suspend Operations

Joe Smith
Times staff writer
December 21, 2017

 The Storm, a five-time Arenabowl Champion and the last team left from the original AFL, has folded.  With the AFL struggling, down to a handful of teams, Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment decided to reallocate its resources. "This was not an easy decision, but after deep consideration, evaluation and introspection, we have elected to reallocate the resources dedicated to arena football for other uses within our organization, including the growth of Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties," said president Steve Griggs.  This shouldn't be a huge surprise.  The AFL has been struggling. Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment cited rising league costs and reduced revenues in reason for suspending operations of the Storm. Griggs said the organization is pleased to explore future opportunities in "stronger, reinvented" AFL at right time. The Storm made Tampa Bay its home in 1991 and set league records for wins, championships and attendance. "We are eternally grateful to the Storm fans, current and former players, our sponsorship partners and the Tampa Bay community for their continued support during the team's 26 years of operation in Tampa Bay," Griggs said.  "We are proud of the five ArenaBowl Championships they all earned throughout our history."

Chris Thompson Named Albany AFL Director of Football Operations, Offensive Coordinator

Former Lehigh Valley Steelhawks head coach Chris Thompson has been named the director of football operations for the Albany-based Arena Football League team. Thompson stepped down as the Steelhawks head coach yesterday to take the role. Thompson will also serve as the team’s offensive coordinator.

During his seven seasons in Lehigh Valley, Thompson was the Steelhawks head coach and offensive coordinator. He won the 2017 National Arena League (NAL) Coach of the Year. They also played in the postseason all seven seasons under him.  Continued Here

Albany gets Arena Football League franchise for 2018

By David Johnson, The Saratogian

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. >> Pro indoor football is officially returning to the Capital District in 2018.

A new Albany Arena Football League franchise was announced by the team’s local ownership group, which includes Times Union Publisher George Hearst III, Dan Nolan and Ed Swyer at the Hearst Media Center Tuesday. The local owners have partnered with owners of the two-time defending AFL champion Philadelphia Soul, including former NFL stars Ron Jaworski and Marques Coleston, current Green Bay Packers lineman Jahri Evans and ex-NFL head coach Dick Vermeil.

“When you talk about a partnership that’s second to none, you’re marrying a brand new city that I think is going to be outstanding with regard to area football with what has become our proudest franchise right now with two straight championships and running,” AFL Comissioner Scott Butera said.

John Adams will serve as president of both teams but individual staffs for each franchise will be unique. The union of the ownership between the Soul and Albany’s unnamed team will not affect the competition on the field, Jaworski said.

“The ownership group doesn’t play,” Jaworski said. “We invest our money, we organize the teams and it will be a fierce competition on the field. We have nothing to do with the outcome of the game on the field.”

Albany will play it’s games at the Times Union Center, the former home of the Albany Firebirds, an AFL team who played until the team moved to Indianapolis in 2000.

Another area indoor football franchise called the Albany Conquest played in Arena Football’s development league from 2002-09.

“I’ve been around the AFL long enough to remember the Albany Firebirds. Watching them on ABC in an Arena Bowl game, fans going crazy up here in Albany,” Jaworski, a 17-year NFL veteran who is now an analyst, said. “It’s back. The good times are back in Albany.”

Many of the speakers Tuesday mentioned the opportunities the franchise will provide to the area as things to look forward to, including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

“This wonderful world-class facility is going to have premier professional football,” Sheehan said. “It’s going to bring tremendous excitement to downtown.”

Fans can go to and submit a team name suggestion. Final choices will be selected and made available for fan vote. The winning name will be announced after the voting period. The person that submitted the team name that was ultimately selected will receive a special team prize pack.

The ownership cited the league’s exciting product at an affordable family price as an advantage for the AFL in any market.

“I love being around kids who play football,” Vermeil a Super Bowl-winning coach of the St. Louis Rams, said. “It gives people an opportunity to play, people an opportunity to coach and people an opportunity to go to a game. You can afford to come. The first time I took (my wife) Carol to a game she intercepted a pass. It’s fun to identify with a team to feel close to other than a TV screen.”

The Albany team will be the sixth team to join five current franchises listed on the league website. Although that number may grow before the 2018 season kicks off in the spring of 2018.

Butera also mentioned a large fantasy sports company will soon partner with the league and sports betting options going forward.

There are several other competing indoor football leagues around the country, including the Indoor Football League and the fledgling Can-Am Indoor Football League, which will field a first-year team in the Glens Falls Civic Center in the spring of 2018.



Wells Fargo Center, the home of the 13-1 Philadelphia Soul, was the site of Arena Bowl XXX, the 2017 AFL Championship Game. The visiting Tampa Bay Storm, with a regular-season record of 10-4 came in hoping to gain their sixth AFL title game and their first win of the season over The Soul. 0-3 during the regular season vs. The Soul, The Storm came in with determination as well as four All-AFL offensive starters, including QB Randy Hippeard, WR’s Joe Hills, and Kendrick Ings. The Soul, playing in front of 13,648 boisterous fans, defeated the team from Tampa the last eight meetings in a row including three times in this season. Those victories were hard-fought affairs but in the end, Philadelphia always took home the W by an average score of nearly 13 points. With that kind of dominance Head Coach Clint Dolezel had every reason to be confident Philly would reward their fans support with their second straight Foster Trophy.

On the opening drive, Hippeard missed a wide-open Kendrick Ings for an easy six. Missed opportunities would plague both teams throughout the first half. A couple of plays later, Hippeard was bumped from behind causing an errant pass which was picked off by Soul DB #25 James Romaine. With the ball for the first time, Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh hit #24 Torez Jones for a long gain into the Tampa Bay end of the field. Unable to close the deal and backed up by penalties Philadelphia chose to try a field goal. It went wide and was played off the net and returned for a Tampa TD by Ings.  

All season long the Soul’s special teams had played spotty and Tampa knew it was a weakness they could exploit. They kicked off and pinned Philadelphia on their own 7. Raudabaugh missed a wide open #7 Darius Prince for an easy touch, and then Prince dropped another big gainer on 4th and one. With the ball back in Tampa’s hands, #81 Joe Hills missed a gimme 6 after falling in the end zone on 4th down. Philly got the ball back on their own 11, and after a Raudabaugh run for a 1st down the quarter ended with Tampa up 6-0.  

The jittery play continued into the 2nd quarter as Raudabaugh missed #21 Shaun Kauleinamoko for an easy big gainer which would have put the Soul, if not in the end zone, then at least inside the Tampa 5-yard line. After that, Philadelphia chose a more methodical approach. The drive ended with a Darius Prince 2-yard reception for a TD giving the Soul a one-point lead 7-6.  

After a kick-off through the goal posts for a touchback, Hippeard and the Storm finally began exploiting the opportunities the Philly D were giving them. Hills hauled in a 35-yard pass for the TD and this time Kicker Mark Lewis hit the PAT giving Tampa the lead at 13-7. Philadelphia’s return unit sputtered again and a couple of plays later, Raudabaugh threw a pick 6 to Storm Jack Linebacker, Alvin Ray Jackson. Lewis hit the PAT and Tampa extended their lead to 13 points 20-7. With another poor kick return and the crowd quieted, Philly appeared to be on the ropes. Continuing their methodical approach The Soul fought their way back. They worked the ball down to the 1-yard line and All-Arena First Team FB Mykel Benson powered his way into the end zone for the 6. K Adrian Trevino tacked on the PAT, and the teams went into halftime 20-14.

Having won the coin toss and deferring until the second half, Philadelphia caught Tampa by surprise. Expecting Philadelphia to continue its dink and dunk approach, they were shocked by a 40-yard strike to Darius Reynolds for the tie. After Trevino tacked on the PAT, The Soul regained the lead 21-20. The Lewis missed PAT appeared to be having major consequences for The Storm and with the crowd coming back to life Tampa had their work cut out for them.

Three minutes and thirty-two second later, The Storm retook the lead with what was possibly the best pass throughout the night from either quarterback. From their own 22 playing over the left hash, high-motion man Kendrick Ings streaked down the right side of the field and hauled in the strike just ahead of Soul DB #22 Dwayne Hillis. He ran the last few yards into the end zone and The Storm retook the lead by 6, 27-21.

Raudabaugh hit Prince with a short pass and after breaking a tackle, he turned it into a 34-yard gain down to the Tampa 6. That is when the most controversial play during the night occurred. Mykel Benson ran right side off-tackle but was called down by contact just short of the end zone. On replay, it appeared he might have been in and with crowd's encouragement Soul Head Coach Clint Dolezel threw out the challenge flag. The end zone view clearly showed when Benson’s knee went down, but not where the nose of the ball was at that moment. The sideline camera angle clearly showed the ball, but it was hard to see when the knee came down. Though it appeared to be a six-point play, without incontrovertible proof, the Referees were forced to uphold the ruling on the field. Undeterred, Raudabaugh hit Prince for the touch on the very next play. With the PAT good The Soul captured the

Ings plays it off the net and returns it for 6

momentum, and extended their lead to eight.  

On the kick-off Ings barely made it onto the field of play, and on the next play Philadelphia Safety # 55 Sean Daniels wrestled Randy Hippeard down in the end zone for the safety and a ten-point lead. Tampa succeeded with the surprise onside kick and Hippeard hit #15 Justin Hilton for the 42-yard TD to bring The Storm back to within 3. Then, with 5:54 left in the game, Tampa ordered up another onside kick. This time Philadelphia was ready, and they recovered the ball deep in the Tampa end. One minute and twenty seconds later, they sealed the victory with a beautiful 16-yard pass to Kauleinamoku. The Storm D bit on the Benson off left tackle run. Raudabaugh ran to his right parallel to the line of scrimmage drawing the remaining defenders towards him. They were hoping to prevent him from picking up the 1st down or possibly scoring. That’s when he spotted Kauleinamoke running from right to left along the end zone wall. Raudabaugh stopped and popped back across the middle for the clinching points. Tampa would hit for another 6 on a Hippeard to Ings pass, but it was too little too late. With five lead changes, long TD passes, some power running, and a few timely defensive and special team plays. The AFL Championship game offered everyone in attendance something to cheer about.

This past AFL season was marred by the defections of several of the leagues best teams. With the addition of Baltimore and DC, the league was barely viable with only five teams. Next year, it was announced two expansion teams will be joining the league bringing the number of teams up to the minimally adequate seven. While the AFL still considers itself to be the top league in the world, it's a claim is built on shaky ground. There's no question both Philadelphia and Tampa can claim to be two of the best teams in any league. The other three teams, however, would be competitive but not dominant in the NAL. The AFL's strength is its perceived longevity and marketing ability, but until they once again have a deep well of competitive teams throughout the country, they will only be a regional league boasting a big name with a dearth of competition. In the meantime, the nearly 14,000 fans in the Wells Fargo Center were treated to a good old-fashioned arena football game between two of the best teams in the world. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Soul taking advantage of your opportunities and delivering everything your fans could hope for two years in a row.   

                             AFL Final Standings
Philadelphia Soul 13 1 .929 817 590
Tampa Bay Storm 10 4 .714 710 662
Cleveland Gladiators 5 9 .357 696 715
Baltimore Brigade 4 10 .286 620 749
Washington Valor 3 11 .214 565 692