Arena Football League Files for Bankruptcy, Will Cease Operations

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2019

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, now part of an ownership group in the Arena Football League, speaking at a news conference Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Atlantic City, N.J., about the new expansion team that will play there beginning in April. The Arena League and the Alliance of American Football are among football leagues drawing action from sports bettors this year. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Wayne Parry/Associated Press

The Arena Football League announced Wednesday that it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is ceasing operations henceforth:

In October, the AFL announced it was shutting down all six of its teams but stated at the time that it hoped to resume operations at a later date. One of the issues facing the Arena Football League was a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed against it by former insurance provider National Union Fire Insurance Company. 

The Arena Football League held its final season from April through August and culminated in the Albany Empire beating the Philadelphia Soul for the 2019 championship.

Jim Foster founded the Arena Football League in 1987, and it enjoyed a fair amount of success at various times. It even gained enough popularity that the Kurt Warner's Arena Football Unleashed video game was released for PlayStation in 2000 and subsequent Arena League video game titles were released in 2006 and 2007 as well.

The AFL began to run into financial problems in 2008, though, and it resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2009 season. At that point, it appeared as though the Arena Football League was in danger of shutting down for good.

Instead, owners in the AF2 (an AFL developmental league) formed a new entity known officially as Arena Football 1 and managed to prepare the league to return to action in 2010.

The Arena Football League is perhaps best known for helping launch the career of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, who starred for the Iowa Barnstormers before becoming a Super Bowl-winning signal-caller and NFL MVP with the St. Louis Rams.

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Former Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was also a star quarterback in the AFL for the Tampa Bay Storm and Orlando Predators.

With the Arena League ceasing operations, it leaves the NFL and CFL as the only major North American football leagues, although that will change when the XFL season officially begins in 2020.

The AFL distinguished itself from other leagues with its 50-yard field and indoor venues, however, and its closure will leave a void for those who enjoyed that brand of football.