AFL Troubles on Hold for Now

Richie FenderCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2008

It seems to be pre-mature when the owner of the AFL's Los Angeles franchise reports that the league is expected to call off the 2009 season.

L.A. Avengers owner Casey Wasserman told the L.A. Times that the AFL needs to take the necessary steps to become more efficient in this poor economic time.

Wasserman told the newspaper that this decision was not yet official—however, he expected the owners to vote on the approval this week.

Wasserman replied, "It's important for the Arena Football League to think about the next 20 years. And the economic model, combined with the economic environment we're in, currently doesn't allow us to take that perspective. By suspending play for the year, in cooperation with our players and our partners, it allows us to get the perspective to try and make the decisions that are in the best interest of the long-term viability of the league."

The AFL Board of Directors released the following statement in response to rumors of the suspension of the 2009 season, "Despite rumors and reports to the contrary, the Arena Football League Board of Directors has not suspended the 2009 season at this time. The Board met via conference call this evening. The Board will continue to meet regularly to examine any and all long-term structural improvement options for the AFL."

So how do you fix the leagues financial issues? This first step is to fix the salary cap which is the maximum amount of money that can be spent on salaries for a sports team or other group. The players' union voted to cut the salary cap from $2 million to $1.4 million in order to help save the coming season.

Hopefully this is just the first step to help restructure the league for long term success. Ahmad Hawkins, union rep for the Grand Rapids Rampage, commented, "I'm one of the top-paid guys and I was the first one to say I'd take a pay cut. We agreed to take the salary cap lower. The players want to do anything we can to play this season."  Hawkins, a defensive back with the Rampage earned $75,000 last season.

The AFL's troubles come during a time when the world of sports is feeling economic crunch. The NFL is cutting 150 jobs, while the NBA and NASCAR also have laid off dozens of workers. Even the NHL is in a hiring freeze, while the Internet operation for Major League Baseball also has trimmed positions.

While still in ITS infancy, the 22-year-old Arena Football League has lasted longer than the American Football League, World League, USFL, and XFL combined.

In a show of some stability, the arenafootball2 league (official development league of the AFL) stated they will continue to operate as usual and will continue with their 2009 season.

This is the 10th-anniversary season of the af2. Fortunately, the af2 operates entirely on its own and is not directly affected by the AFL's current situation.