The Arena Football League and AFL players union reached a five-year collective bargaining agreement Sunday in Chicago, wrapping up a process that has been hanging over the league all season.
Beginning in 2013, the minimum salary will go up to more than $800 per game, and will increase each year throughout the duration of the contract, Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said. While specific terms were not released, Nelson added that some changes will take effect immediately.
The league will release more details later in the week.
“It’s mostly financial and now we just need to put the legal language together and move forward from there,” Nelson said. “It’s a huge relief for everybody. It’s not fun to have that relationship with players. It’s time to have everyone come together.”
Heading into the weekend, rumors circled of another player strike, but all seven games were played as negotiations took place in Chicago. The league was set to lock out players on Sunday night and finish the season with replacement players if an agreement couldn’t be reached.
The league’s original proposal was a salary of $825 per game with a seven-year agreement through 2019 and a reduction in game-day rosters (from 21 to 19 active players), with inactives bumping from three to six. Under the league’s proposal players would also pay for their own housing.
The union’s counter proposal included a five-year deal, with a salary increase to $875 a game in 2013 plus a $75 food allowance. The proposed salary increases would top out at $1,250 in 2017. Players currently earn $400 a game, with a $50 bonus for a win, and quarterbacks get a $1,275 bonus. They also live rent-free.
Other proposed terms included a $250 bonus per game for starting quarterbacks, a $250-per-game bonus for two other “highly-compensated” players, a housing allowance of $150 a week for each player from the league and an increase from 24 players to 25 players on the roster with 21 active on game days.
“There was give and take on both sides,” Nelson said. “It’s going to be much better for the players, which will make for a better game. … It means stability between the players and the teams and players will be more inclined to stick around longer.”