Spokane Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said he’s “100 percent” confident the Arena Football League team’s season opener Monday night will go on as planned despite threats from the AFL players union of a possible strike.
The Shock entertain Iowa on Monday, the last of six AFL games to kickoff on opening weekend. Iowa general manager John Pettit echoed Nelson's thoughts: "I have no reason to believe our players won’t step on the field and be there to play
(UPDATE: I put together an article for Friday's S-R, you can read it below. Also, AFLPU executive director Ivan Soto told the Sentinel later Thursday that the possibility of a strike "has been reduced" due to progress made in negotiations).
Nelson said he isn't worried because he believes the strike talk is being generated by the union, not the players. Nelson doesn't believe there's a great deal of "buy-in" from the players with the players union.
AFL president Jerry Kurz's statement: “The Arena Football League is choosing not to discuss labor matters publicly at this time in the hopes that we can come to an accord with the union. We will continue delivering the same exciting brand of football action that we have for the last 24 seasons and we hope that the union allows the players to do the same.”
Spokane Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said he’s “100 percent” confident the Arena Football League team’s season opener Monday night will go on as planned despite threats from the players union of a possible strike.
The AFL is scheduled to open its 25th season tonight when Pittsburgh visits Orlando in a nationally televised game on NFL Network. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Orlando has gone as far as lining up replacement players in case the players strike.
The AFLPU on its Website said it has proposed players be paid about $850 per game ($15,300 annually) compared to the current $400 ($7,200 annually) for players other than starting quarterbacks, who earn $1,650 per game ($29,700). Players also earn $50 for each win.
Later Thursday, AFLPU executive director Ivan Soto told the Sentinel that progress had been made in negotiations and the likelihood of a work stoppage “has been reduced.” AFL commissioner Jerry Kurz said the league won’t discuss labor issues publicly but “hopes that we can come to an accord with the union.”
“The noise is really only coming from union management,” Nelson said. “It’s not coming from the players. This has happened several times and unfortunately it’s being put out in the media, but we’ve dealt with this type of thing previously. We fully expect our players to play.”
Nelson said players from Spokane and Tampa Bay were asked to go on strike after the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner prior to the 2010 ArenaBowl at the Spokane Arena. The game went on as scheduled with Spokane winning 69-57.
“I really don’t think it’s going to be an issue because the buy-in (from players) isn’t there,” Nelson said.
Spokaneis scheduled to entertain Iowa on Monday night.
“We’re looking forward to the game, our guys have prepared hard and we’ve had a long training camp,” Iowa general manager John Pettit said. “We’re looking forward to hitting the field.”
The AFL went out of the business in 2009 because of a broken financial model. The league returned in 2010 with Spokane capturing the championship in its first season after moving up from arenafootball2.
Last season players made $400 per game with three “marketing players” earning $1,000. This season, starting quarterbacks are scheduled to make $1,650 per game and all other players $400, with $50 bonus per victory.
“Our players know this is an opportunity to play football, get film and to move up, and they’re happy to do that,” Nelson said. “Of course everybody wants to make more money, but I think our players understand we’re in a young, growing league and costs need to be in line for this league to continue to flourish.”