Football season is starting early in 2017, though it won’t be at M&T Bank Stadium.
Washington D.C. sports mogul Ted Leonsis announced on WTOP Radio today that his company, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, is launching an Arena Football League (AFL) team right here in Baltimore. And though though they don’t even have a coach, players or even a name yet, Leonsis said they’ll be playing games downtown at Royal Farms Arena starting this spring.
The Baltimore [insert name here] won’t be the only AFL squad in the area. Leonsis revealed this past March that Washington D.C. would be an indoor football team, later unveiled as the Washington Valor. The two could be creating a second Beltway rivalry for the area – maybe even one in which both teams play in the same conference.
The AFL’s leadership has expressed high hopes for a new team in Charm City. “Baltimore is an ideal location for the Arena Football League and we look forward to rivalries with other AFL cities including Washington and Philadelphia,” Butera said in part in a statement. (For those who also aren’t too familiar with indoor football, he was referring to the Valor and the Philadelphia Soul.)
Right now, Baltimore’s newest franchise is searching for a head coach to assemble a full roster and staff. Interestingly enough, the Baltimore Lightning formed here earlier this year and have been holding tryouts over the last several months, according to their Facebook account. It’s unclear if there’s a link between the team’s formation and Leonsis’ announcement, though the AFL has already started a Facebook page for a nameless new team.
Leonsis added on WTOP that doesn’t see this competing with the real thing here in Baltimore. “We’re not trying to compete with the NFL in any way,” he said.
Baltimoreans are no strangers to arena football. The Baltimore Mariners, of the failed American Indoor Football Association, competed at Royal Farms Arena under its previous name, 1st Mariner Arena, from 2008 to 2010, and again for a final season in 2014. That year, they won the AIFA’s last-ever championship. Let’s hope some of those players are still in town. We’re suddenly in need of them on very short notice.
Fans who are eager for the arrival of indoor football will be able to get season tickets here with a $50 deposit.