CHICAGO — Officials with the new Arena Football One league said Thursday they are on schedule to return to the field next spring with a more modest economic model they hope will ensure its success.
The new indoor league debuts in April in 15 communities, including Salt Lake City and six other cities that hosted teams in the now defunct Arena Football League.
"The challenge is to do it in the best businesslike manner," Arena Football One commissioner Jerry Kurz said during a news conference announcing the revival of the Chicago Rush, a perennial AFL power. "The (old) league didn't do that."
Arena Football One this week purchased the assets of the AFL in a deal approved by a judge overseeing the AFL's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
The reported $6.1 million sale included all team names, logos, records, film and video libraries, and other assets from the Arena Football League, which called off the 2009 season a year ago and then indefinitely suspended operations in August.
AFL then filed for bankruptcy protection. Legal proceedings also included af2, a 25-team indoor football league with teams in smaller markets that the AFL partly owned.
"The game was always good," said Kurz, who spent the last six years as president of af2. "Some would say (the AFL) tried to do too much, too soon. We won't make that mistake."
Arena Football One will be a mix of former AFL and af2 teams, with Chicago as the largest market. Tampa, Fla., Arizona, Cleveland, Orlando, Dallas and Utah — all former AFL locations — will also be represented in the new league.
The league will also have teams in smaller markets such as Spokane, Wash., Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Okla., Milwaukee and Bossier-Shreveport, La. League offices will be in Tulsa.
Arena Football One will operate as a single entity, with all players and coaches considered league employees, an arrangement similar to Major League Soccer. The league also hopes it will have lower costs with centralized purchasing, insurance and marketing.
None of the former AFL ownership groups are involved in the new league, although there are some familiar faces coming back in Chicago and Cleveland.
The Rush announced that the return of head coach Mike Hohensee, who guided an earlier Chicago team to an Arena Bowl title. New owners in Cleveland, meanwhile, said that former Cleveland Browns star Bernie Kosar would serve in an advisory capacity. Kosar was the Gladiators' president in 2008.
Kurz said the league has hired Neal H. Pilson, former president of CBS Sports, to explore potential TV deals. The AFL had recent broadcast exposure with NBC Sports and later with ESPN.
The league alignment and schedules will be announced before year's end, Kurz said.