Arena Football League Announces Return, Relaunch Date
SALT LAKE CITY – The Arena Football League announced that it will return after a multi-year absence and resume play in 2024.
Arena Football League to return in 2024
On February 1, the league announced that it would relaunch in a year under new leadership.
“Today, the Arena Football League (AFL) has announced that it will be relaunching under new leadership with plans to formally return to the gridiron in 2024. The league will resume operations under the stewardship of investment group F1 Sports & Entertainment, which purchased the rights to the AFL in January 2022. The league’s board of directors will include Chairman Chris Chetty, President Anthony Rossi and President of Operations Shan Singh and the executive leadership team will be led by Commissioner Lee A. Hutton III, Deputy Commissioner Travelle Gaines, President of Entertainment Tuo Clark and Executive Vice President Curt Feldtkeller.”
— Arena Football League (@OfficialAFL) February 1, 2023
The AFL will return with 16 teams and play a 10-game regular season schedule prior to a postseason.
“We are elated to come out of hibernation and make this announcement official,” Rossi said in a statement. “Our objective when we acquired the AFL was to bring back a storied brand that deserved to be revived and showcased again, globally.
This edition of arena football will be led by the AFL’s new commissioner Lee A. Hutton III. Hutton’s charge is historical as he is the first Black commissioner to lead a professional sports league in the United States of America.
“The Arena Football League brand has always sat at the promontory of indoor football by offering gridiron entertainment, fast action, and iron tough athletes in conjunction with delivering a family fun fan experience that uniquely engages the pig skin enthusiast,” Hutton said in a statement. “Ultimately, the professional sports brand speaks for itself and is proud to announce, ‘We are back!’”
Get ready, @975Hans. 😎 🔥 https://t.co/GBQsHEG10T
— Kyle Ireland (@kyleireland) February 2, 2023
The first version of the Arena Football League was formed in 1986 and began competition a year later.
AFL 1.0 operated until 2008. The league returned in 2010 under a different format. The 2.0 edition of the AFL lasted until 2019.
Arena Football in Utah
The Beehive State was home to AFL’s Utah Blaze and Utah Valley Thunder. The first version of the Blaze played from 2008-10 at EnergySolutions Arena, currently known as Vivint Arena. In 2009, the 2.0 edition of the Blaze originated as the Utah Valley Thunder of the American Indoor Football Association. The Thunder played at the McKay Events center on the campus of Utah Valley in Orem.
RELATED: In Between Eras: Delta Center’s History As EnergySolutions, Vivint Arena
After the league’s return in 2010, the Blaze opened play at the Maverick Center in West Valley City. From 2011-13, the Blaze’s home games were at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. The organization folded in 2013.
The Blaze made the postseason five times during their time as a franchise.
Kyle Ireland is a Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com and co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland) and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).