AFL Expands, Adds Three Teams
TULSA– The Arena Football League announced the addition of three former markets on Friday, June 18, 2010. Re-joining the league for the 2011 season are the San Jose SaberCats, the Kansas City Brigade and the reigning champion Philadelphia Soul. All three franchises were members in the 2008 season, the last season before the league took a one-year hiatus.
“I have the honor of announcing to the world that we have added three storied franchises to the league,” Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz told the Orlando crowd Friday night.
San Jose is one of the most successful franchises in Arena Football history. A member from 1995 through the 2008 season, the SaberCats qualified for the post-season in 12 of their 14 total seasons, including all nine of their final seasons. They made four appearances in the ArenaBowl, winning three, in addition to eight division titles. They finished the 2008 regular season with a record of 11-5 and made it all the way to ArenaBowl Xxii before losing to the Philadelphia Soul, 56-59.
“We are very excited to have a great set of fans,” said owner Dave Fry during the halftime announcement. “We are happy to be back.”
Kansas City was one of the newer franchises in the league when it folded in 2008, having existed only since 2006. The Kansas City market was very strong, consistently selling out their arena of over 12,000 despite a less than stellar performance on the turf. In their three years of existence, the Brigade had a franchise record of 16-32. They finished the 2008 season with a record of 3-13. The Likens family returns as the majority ownership group.
The Philadelphia Soul returns as the most recent winner of an ArenaBowl trophy, defeating the SaberCats in 2008. Started in 2004, the Soul missed the post season in their first two seasons but made it to the Divisional Championship rounds in 2006
and 2007, losing both. During the 2008 season, Philadelphia averaged nearly 16,500 fans per game and sold out four of the eight home games. They won their first nine straight games of the season and finished 13-3 in the regular season before defeating the New York, Cleveland and San Jose teams on their way to their ArenaBowl victory.
“All three of these teams are an integral part of our history,” Commissioner Kurz said. “I cannot stress how pleased I am to see this league continue to grow, and I welcome these franchises back into the Arena Football family.”
The San Jose ownership group consists of Kathryn J. Kolder, the Executive Vice President of Fry’s electronics and her three brothers, John, Dave and Randy Fry. The Soul are owned by returning owners Craig Spencer and Ron Jaworski in addition to
new-comers Pete Ciarrocchi and Cosmo DiNicola. DiNicola is a former owner of the arenafootball2 Willkes-Barre/Scranton team. San Jose will also be welcoming back their former head coach, Darren Arbet.