Now that minor league indoor football season is officially over with all three of the biggest leagues having finished their playoffs, the crazy season of relocating, renaming, jumping leagues, or just flat folding, is underway.
And this week, we’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to get you caught up on, so let’s get right into the headlines.
IFL announces 5 teams have committed to 2018 season
When we last checked, the IFL was in big trouble, and could have been down to as few as three teams in a worst-case scenario.
Well Tuesday evening the IFL quieted some of those rumors, while also raising some eyebrows. In a release on their website, the league announced that five teams have already committed to returning for the 2018 season. Those five teams are the defending champion Arizona Rattlers, Iowa Barnstormers, Green Bay Blizzard, Nebraska Danger, and Cedar Rapids Titans.
So while this announcement does ease some of the concerns the league might have had for 2018, it also raises just as many. The obviously gone teams are the Colorado Crush and Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, who announced they were leaving to start their own league where fans control everything. The Spokane Empire also announced they were ceasing operations for 2018, so that’s three teams immediately gone.
It also raises questions about possible expansion teams. Rumors were that teams in the northwest, particularly the Boise and Portland areas, were looking at teams, but with Spokane, Colorado, and Salt Lake all leaving, that doesn’t bode well for that idea.
That brings us to two other teams who were active in 2017 that have not committed to playing in the IFL yet, the Wichita Falls Nighthawks, and the greatest IFL franchise in league history, the Sioux Falls Storm…
Wichita Falls Nighthawks appear set to join CIF
The Times-Record News reports that the Nighthawks have filed the paperwork to join Champions Indoor Football in 2018, which would make a ton of sense for both sides of that potential agreement.
For CIF, it adds another team to the South Division, and provides a middle spot for the other Texas teams in the league. Add in that it appears the Quad Cities are getting a team and that would bring the league to 15 teams after the Dodge City Law folded following the 2017 season.
For the Nighthawks, the biggest reason to join CIF is the financial savings it would bring the team. The owners claimed that they lost $250,000 in each of the last two seasons, which, honestly surprises me that it’s not higher.
In that article linked to above, team owners claim they averaged around 3,000 fans per game last season, which would be a good number for CIF, but that the biggest savings would be in travel. In the IFL their closest team was 8-plus hours away in Nebraska. In CIF the LONGEST trip they make for a regular season game would be less than 8 hours, so there would be huge savings there, as well as on player salaries.
But CIF may not be done adding teams…
Sioux Falls Storm weighing options for 2018
The Sioux Falls Storm, the most successful minor league indoor football team of all-time, are currently free agents, and aren’t in a rush to join a league just yet, according to KWSN.
The Storm were noticeably absent from the IFL release we linked to earlier, and have been rumored to have also applied for membership in CIF.
The biggest factor for the Storm is trying to determine if they would rather continue to play in IFL, which has a higher quality of play than CIF, but also higher player salaries and higher travel costs, or if they want to jump to CIF, which is a drop in play, but as we previously noted, a major savings in salaries and travel. Plus it would bring back a handful of former IFL rivals who jumped to CIF years ago.
In that article above, the Storm head coach also has reservations about possibly joining CIF, because he knows the league would come down hard on the Storm, hoping to make them less dominant than they have been in the IFL.
The Storm have roughly one month to decide what league they’ll join, as the deadline for IFL membership is September 1. According to KWSN, last year the Storm waited until August 27.
Add it all up, and we’re nowhere near done with the circus that is the minor league indoor football off-season, and I hope we get at least a dozen more stories like this.