Fan support can't save AFL's New Orleans VooDoo

Steve RoelandCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2008

Our country's struggling economy has seen countless businesses fail. Bailouts, layoffs and dwindling 401(k) accounts have become headline material in newspapers worldwide.

The unfortunate reality of an economic recession is now beginning to creep in to the world of sports. On Monday, the National Basketball Association announced that it was laying off nine percent of its U.S. job force. Dire news that will cost 80 individuals their jobs.

Yesterday, the Arena Football League's New Orleans VooDoo became the latest casualty of the struggling financial world, as the team announced that it will cease operations.

The VooDoo joined the AFL in 2004, but was forced to suspend play in 2006, following Hurricane Katrina's devastation. The VooDoo returned in '07 and narrowly missed the playoffs in '08.

Team owner Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints, stated that "circumstances currently affecting the league and the team" forced the VooDoo's demise.

However, the climate in New Orleans was certainly favorable for an Arena Football team. Last season, the VooDoo finished fifth in the 17-team league in ticket sales per game, bringing in an average of 14,321 people each home game. The city also hosted each of the last two AreanaBowl games, each of which sold out despite featuring teams from various parts of the country (San Jose twice, Columbus and Philadelphia).

It's unfortunate that a city that has endured so much turmoil in the last few years must again go through the loss one of its fixtures. A community so open to the Arena League is hard to find, considering Austin, Tex. and Las Vegas, Nev. both lost franchises prior to the start of the '08 campaign (Austin became an af2 franchise and Las Vegas moved to Cleveland).

Sports allow us fans to escape reality for just several hours each week, letting our minds take a break from worries over mortgages, insurance policies, political bickering, etc. It's too bad to see to see the realities of life making their way into the games we love.