Arena Football League to make return in 2024
Consider the Arena Football League the last professional football league to make a comeback, following the USFL and XFL.
The AFL, which is under new ownership, announced plans on Wednesday to return to play in 2024 with 16 teams playing a 10-game schedule.
The league has been bankrupt since 2019 when it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Formed in the 1980s, the indoor AFL had 19 teams at its peak and attracted celebrity ownership, but was down to just six franchises when it went out of business. Investment group F1 Sports & Entertainment bought the rights to the league in January 2022.
“We are thrilled to come out of hibernation and make this announcement official,” league president Anthony Rossi said in a statement. “When we acquired the AFL, our goal was to bring back a historic brand that deserved to be relaunched and presented again, on a global scale. … We want to integrate the components of a modern business – streaming, betting, technology, virtual reality, and huge fan engagement mixed with good old-fashioned iron-man football.”
Rossi said the partnership has “built a world-class operational team.” Lee A. Hutton III, an attorney who has worked on cases involving both NFL and NCAA football, will serve as commissioner.
The AFL said Hutton would be the first black commissioner of a professional sports league in the United States.
The revamped summer league will feature some previous teams as well as new clubs across its 16 franchises. The regular season will be followed by playoffs and the teams will be announced at a later date.
“Our commitment is to deliver a professional sporting event every week indoors, during the summer season when the world thirsts for entertainment and competition,” said AFL chairman Chris Chetty. “We aim to produce a family atmosphere, but equally electric for our engaged fans.”