What Happened to the Arena League? (Part II)
This is how I finished my article on What Happened to the Arena League? Back in July.
"So long story short, THE ARENA LEAGUE (AFL) IS DOOMED."
Today the local Arena League team, the Cleveland Gladiators, announced that they were taking a 2 YEAR, yes you read that right, a 2 year hiatus. What team in sports takes a 2 year hiatus?
Teams affected by war: Not applicable here. An example in history would be the Cleveland Rams in the NFL during World War II.
Teams for sale: If you fold, you get nothing. If you suspend operations, another sucker- um, I mean owner, can buy the remnants of your franchise.
Teams waiting to see if their league folds so they can reform in a new league: I'm not sure if I'm right, but I vaguely remember the Baltimore Blast doing this in 2008. The Blast won the championship, suspended operations when the second version of the MISL folded, then reformed in the NISL.
Dan Gilbert's official excuse is that he needs the next 2 summers to complete renovations to Quicken Loans Arena, that's why the Gladiators can't play. I don't buy it. Why don't I buy it? Let me tell you why.....
Today MLS announced that "The League Will Choose Two Expansion Teams From Four Finalists." In an incredible stroke of coincidence, on the same exact day that the Gladiators suspended its operations, Dan Gilbert and the Ford Family are in line for a new MLS franchise. Personally I hope they don't get it. They want the expansion franchise to play soccer in a football stadium and on turf. Let Detroit City FC flourish in Hamtramck instead of force feeding us expansion soccer. I oppose expanding MLS period, but if they do it, they should go with Sacramento and Nashville.
The AFL is moving ahead with a plan for 5 teams in 2018. Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and...Albany. That would be media markets #7, 4, 11, 26.... and 59. All returning teams in the AFL have scheduled tryouts for 2018, while Albany is still trying to work out a name for the franchise. So 4 returning teams and one expansion team. If Gilbert was losing money on the Gladiators, which I don't know if he was or not, but it's feasible that he used construction to the Q as an excuse to gage the viability of the AFL for the future. Even if he doesn't make any money on the Gladiators for the next 2 years, he could argue that he's not losing money on the team, either.
Two years is a long time not to exist in the world of sports.
In any sport.