The Indoor Football League kicks-off its 10th season tonight, and once viewed as the top alternative to the Arena Football League, the IFL is a shell of its former self after an off-season that damn-near saw the league merge with another league, and left them with just six teams after a court ruling three weeks ago.
It all bodes the question, is this the end of the IFL, and what can we expect in the 2018 season?
To start, the league will compete with just six teams in 2018, and it could have been zero, or a completely different league had things gone differently.
Before the 2017 even ended the owners of the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles and Colorado Crush announced they would be leaving after the season to start their own league where fans control everything. Then indoor football stalwarts the Spokane Shock announced they were folding. Then after the 2017 season the IFL looked like it would lose the Sioux Falls Storm, the most decorated IFL team ever, and the Wichita Falls Nighthawks to rival Champions Indoor Football, but the league threatened lawsuits, which brought Sioux Falls back and forced Wichita Falls to close up shop.
There was also talk that the five remaining teams who weren’t Arizona and Iowa were all going to jump to CIF, and rebrand that league as the new IFL.
The league seemed to counter that lose of teams by luring the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen from CIF, and looked like it would have eight teams until three weeks ago. That’s when a court in Iowa ruled in favor of CIF, who filed a lawsuit to stop Bloomington and West Michigan from playing after it was discovered that they had accepted bribes from the Arizona Rattlers to jump ship. So with three weeks before the season started, the league had to basically kick two teams out, and re-do the entire schedule.
So the season gets underway tonight with the Arizona Rattlers, Sioux Falls Storm, Nebraska Danger, Iowa Barnstormers, Green Bay Blizzard, and Cedar Rapids Titans.
It’s nearly impossible to say what might happen on or off the field with how much turnover there was this offseason, but there appear to be four teams who are really good in Nebraska, Arizona, Iowa, and Sioux City, teams that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in any indoor or arena football league.
But with just six teams, and two of them that want to play in bigger leagues, even though none really exist, it leaves a ton of questions about the future of the league before the season has even started. The four other teams in the midwest that aren’t Iowa would probably jump to CIF yesterday if they could, to save on travel and player pay. Arizona is so far out on its own desert that you have to wonder who they’ll play if CIF does absorb teams from the IFL.
But the action on the field starts tonight when Cedar Rapids travels to Nebrasaka, then has two Sunday games in Green Bay and Arizona.
As always, all of the games are streamed free on YouTube on the IFL’s page.
Enjoy the season everyone!