Spokane is one of 16 teams – more are likely to be added in the next two weeks – joining Arena Football 1, a new league that announced its formation Monday, but was short on specific details.
The announcement came during a 28-minute teleconference call originating from Tulsa, where AF1 offices will be located, but it was plagued with phone problems and most of the question-and-answer session was from reporters asking if their respective cities – Green Bay, San Jose, Albany and Tampa, etc. – are under consideration.
AF1 commissioner Jerry Kurz, who was the president of arenafootball2, Spokane’s previous home, said eight additional cities have applied and are under consideration. Kurz repeatedly said he hopes to have concrete details by Oct. 9.
“Today was exciting because we officially entered this new league,” Spokane Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon. “We’ve been committed to making it happen. We’re officially in; soon we’ll be done talking about who is in and out and then we can worry about football.
“We’re ready and we have a leg up on other organizations because most teams don’t have a coach hired or a staff. We have a staff and we have recruiting in place. We’re feeling really good about where we’re at.”
Of the 16 teams, Arizona, Chicago, Orlando and Utah were members of the defunct Arena Football League. The other 12 include many former af2 franchises, including Tri-Cities and Central Valley, Calif., but not Boise, which announced Monday it is suspending operations.
Depending on the final number of teams, Nelson said the new league will probably have two tiers with Spokane definitely playing in the upper tier. Tri-Cities figures to be in the lower tier.
“It’s definitely looking that way,” Nelson said. “Today was first things first, everyone joining and the next couple weeks will be to figure out how everything is structured.”
The league expects to roughly follow the same time frame as the af2 schedule (March through August).
Kurz declined to announce the players’ pay scale, but it’s likely to be $400 per game. Kurz said Nov. 1 is expected to be the date when players and coaches can begin signing with teams.
Spokane opted last week to replace head coach Adam Shackleford with Rob Keefe.
Nelson paid $500,000 four years ago for the Shock to join af2. This time, the cost will again be six figures, but “I can say it’s not as much as last time,” Nelson said. “It’ll be different for brand new franchises.”
Nelson said it hasn’t been determined if ticket prices will be raised, but acknowledged “it’s definitely a possibility.” Some 4,000 season tickets have been renewed at last season’s pricing structure, he said.
The Shock will keep its nickname, logo and team colors, but they will be updated with the official Arena Football 1 logo.