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AFL, Utah Blaze suspend operations for 2009 season

December 15, 2008 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) - Utah Blaze News Release

SALT LAKE CITY - As a result of the Arena Football League Board of Directors' recent decision to suspend the 2009 season, Utah Blaze owner John Garff consequently announces that the Blaze will suspended operations for that same time period, while the League works on developing a long-term plan to improve its economic model.

"It's imperative for the Arena Football League to turn all of its focus and attention to creating a long-term and sustainable business plan," Garff said. "Given the challenges of our existing economic model, and in conjunction with the current economic conditions, it is impossible to achieve that without temporarily suspending operations."

The AFL Board of Directors conducted a meeting via conference call Sunday night 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."

The suspension is subject to agreement and cooperation from the Arena Football League Players Association.

Since their inaugural season in 2006, the Utah Blaze has been on of the most successful franchises in the AFL. In addition to qualifying for the playoffs in each of their first three seasons, the Blaze have been recognized as the Franchise of the Year and has been a consistent league leader in attendance, ticket sales and sponsorship revenue.

"While it is difficult to put on hold the momentum that our franchise has been developing year after year, we certainly understand and support the league's decision to suspend operations for the 2009 season," said Utah Blaze President Jason Jones. "We regret the temporary inconvenience that this decision will have on our fans and sponsors but are confident that they will understand in light of the current economic environment."

While season-ticket and sponsorship sales for the 2009 season were well underway, the Utah Blaze will be issuing a full refund to all those who have purchased or made payments towards their accounts. Season-ticket holders will have their current seat locations held in their account and will be given the first option to renew the same seats once the renewal period for 2010 season begins.

All questions or concerns regarding account status or refunds should be directed to the Utah Blaze at 801-257-3111.

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