AFL Suspends 2009 Season; Rampage Prepare for Future
GRAND RAPIDS - Franchise owners of the Arena Football League have voted to suspend operations for the 2009 season, allowing the league to focus all efforts on reshaping its financial structure to strengthen the organization for future success. Owners are planning on all teams returning to play as soon as it is feasible.
The AFL Board of Directors conducted a meeting via conference call Sunday night (Dec. 14) and voted in favor of a motion to suspend the 2009 season. Columbus Destroyers co-owner and vice chairman of the AFL Executive Committee Jim Renacci was asked by the Board of Directors to spearhead the restructuring process.
"Every owner in the AFL is strongly committed to the League, the game, and, most importantly, the fans," said Acting Commissioner Ed Policy. "Owners, however, recognize that, especially in light of the current unprecedented economic climate, the AFL, as a business enterprise, needs to be restructured if it is to continue to provide its unique brand of this affordable, fan-friendly sport."
"We had strong support from franchise owners as we set a plan in place to suspend the 2009 season and spend time to reconfigure the economic structure of the league," said Dan DeVos, owner of the Grand Rapids Rampage. "It is the best strategy to work toward long-term financial stability, and it also makes sense in the current economy. I continue to believe that whatever is best for the AFL is best for the Rampage, and I look forward to continuing to work with the other owners over the coming months."
DeVos also announced that the Grand Rapids Rampage General Manager Scott Woodruff would continue to manage the operations of the franchise.
According to Woodruff, "Our immediate transition year plans include:
- A full refund for all 1,800 season tickets sold (about 600 Season Ticket Holders).
- A full refund to pre-paid corporate partners.
- Coaching contracts will remain intact.
- The Rampage community and media relations representative position will remain during the transition period with other Rampage front office positions (between seven and nine employees) to be laid off as the work is complete in the coming weeks. Some employees will likely transition over to the Grand Rapids Griffins, also owned by DeVos, while others will receive severance packages with possible plans for rehire as future plans are developed.
- The league and players' union will determine financial plans for all players.
- The team will begin discussions with the Van Andel Arena for future seasons."
The Grand Rapids Rampage began play in 1997. The team has experienced three years of attendance growth, averaging nearly 7,200 fans per game in 2008. The Rampage won the ArenaBowl in 2001 before a sold-out crowd and a national television audience. Last season, the team gained the league's last playoff spot and reached the American Conference Championship before losing to the San Jose SaberCats.
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