AFL News: New York and New Orleans

Richie FenderCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2008

In a time of uncertainty, the New York Dragons have unveiled a new logo and new members of the Dragons Advisory Board.

Promising a new look and feel, they added New York Jets safety Kerry Rhodes and New York Giants LB Danny Clark. Rhodes and Clark will bring their expertise in the field of pro football to the Dragons management group.

The new-look Dragons have taken the first step to revamp the eight-year-old team's brand. This step was taken by the AFL team's new management group led by Steven and Shanna Silva, who purchased the team from Charles Wang on July 25, 2008.

Silva said prior to the logo's unveiling, "We want to bring a brand-new start to the Dragons football team. Updating the logo is just the beginning. We want to show fans that making sure they have the ultimate fan experience is paramount to this management team.

"From putting the best football team possible out on the field every night, to making sure fan involvement and customer service is the best it can be, this is the 'new' New York Dragons."

Silva also commented, "We're so excited to have both NFLers on board giving the Dragons support throughout the season. It shows how dedicated both Kerry and Danny are to growing the sport of football, as well as fan support of football, in the greater New York area."

New York is not the first team in the AFL to have current or former NFL players join their ownership group or advisory board. More well-known members include; John Elway (part owner of the Colorado Crush), Mike Ditka (involved with the Chicago Rush), and Ron Jaworski (affiliated with the Philadelphia Soul).

Silva added by stating, "The AFL has a history of partnering with NFL teams and players, many of our players have come from NFL teams or have gone on to careers in the NFL, and many AFL teams have former NFL players in upper management positions. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two leagues.

"What's great about having Kerry and Danny on board with the Dragons is that they have their finger on the pulse of the New York football fan. We are looking to expand our reach to those passionate football fans, who may not yet be familiar with the Dragons.

"Once Kerry and Danny's season ends with the Jets and the Giants, the Dragons' season begins and that passionate fan has an outlet to remain excited about football. They don't have to wait six months for NFL preseason to begin."

Kerry Rhodes replied, "I am pleased to be a part of an organization such as the New York Dragons. I feel with the talent, my experience as a professional football player and position on the Board of Advisers will allow me to explore options to enhance this team. I am excited and we are looking forward to a great season."

On a much more depressing note, the New Orleans VooDoo plan to cease operations despite being near the top of the league in attendance the past two seasons.

New Orleans VooDoo owner Tom Benson (who also owns the NFL New Orleans Saints) said the decision to fold the five-year-old AFL franchise was "not an indictment of [the New Orleans] marketplace."

The AFL released this written statement, "Tom Benson and Rita Benson LeBlanc have been exemplary AFL operators, leaders and partners. The League is saddened to learn of their sudden decision to terminate their ownership of the VooDoo and regrets that they will no longer be part of the AFL family.

"VooDoo fans and the New Orleans community will always maintain a special place in the history of the AFL for their support of two sold-out ArenaBowls. The league will examine all possibilities regarding the future of the team. This development will not prevent or delay the AFL from continuing to examine new structure possibilities."

The VooDoo have played a total of four seasons in New Orleans, with the exception of suspending operations in 2006 due to the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

Ranked fifth in the league in ticket sales, the VooDoo's average attendance last season, measured by tickets distributed, was 14,321. Due to strong community support, the league awarded the city of New Orleans the past two Arena Bowls.