Arena Football League Files For Bankruptcy, Ending A 30-Year Struggle For Acceptance

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 24: Cleveland Gladiators QB Arvell Nelson (2) looks to pass during the third quarter of the Arena Football League game between the Philadelphia Soul and Cleveland Gladiators on June 24, 2017, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. Philadelphia defeated Cleveland 59-28. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images) AP

The floundering Arena Football League is tossing in the towel, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Wednesday.

A statement from Arena Football League commissioner Randall Boe said the indoor football league couldn’t surmount its financial and liability issues in order to grow, and was disappointed it couldn’t figure out a solution for next season. The league suspended operations in October. It promised refunds for tickets to remaining games.

The decision to declare Chapter 7 ends a 30-year-run, albeit a rollercoaster that saw teams come and go, financial hardships, and questions of survivability dating to its earliest days. Only four teams played in 2018, and even though the league added two expansion teams, it was too little, too late.

The AFL played its modified version of American football on a 66-by-28 yard field, roughly a quarter of the NFL surface area. The rules were geared toward offense, resulting in pinball-like scores and plenty of passing, and many players played offense and defense.

The league was a collection of developing players, old NFL’ers hoping for one last shot, and college players who simply loved the game. Prominent players in its history were led by Kurt Warner, an NFL Hall of Famer who was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV and a former quarterback for the AFL’s Iowa Barnstormers.

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