Following a labor dispute that literally saw the Arena Football League and the executive director of the players’ union going back and forth on Twitter, the league and players last Friday reached a four-year collective bargaining deal.
Yesterday, Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor, as well as the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals, announced that the season was back on for his two teams, meaning they would have to throw together rosters, ticket sales and more within the next three weeks.
On his blog, Ted’s Take, Leonsis wrote that his company Monumental Sports is up to the task.
“The game of arena football is fast, nimble and exciting – makes sense that our league would be, too.”
Since rebooting last year with five teams, the topsy-turvy Arena Football League has continued to struggle. Two teams, the Cleveland Gladiators and Tampa Bay Storm, have suspended operations after just one season. Only one new team, the Albany Empire, has formed to fill the void.
Still, Leonsis lauded the passion of players and fans, the fast pace of play that he says is attractive to young people and the league’s ability to innovate as reasons why he’s staying on board.
“We are building this league up for the long-term. This is the future of football. Fast, real time, high scoring, gamified, indoor real time wagering, safe, family friendly. Created almost from scratch to be a next generation league focused on new fans, in cities–a game for the young in spirit. A game for those folks who live their life on the web, on mobile, and play video games more than they watch television!”
The season kicks off April 13 with a game at Royal Farms Arena against the Valor. There are a few changes this year: Playoffs will open with a home-and-home series, meaning the teams that make the playoffs, which is every team in the four-team league, will get a home game. Purchasers of season tickets will also get tickets to the other markets.
As part of the new CBA, players will receive nearly double the compensation they received last year as well as greater health benefits, the league said.
In a statement, AFL Players Union Executive President James Baron hailed the deal as “the start of what we believe will be the catalyst of a whole new era for the AFL.”
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