Arena Football League Announces Highly Anticipated Return of the Albany Firebirds Franchise
Today, the Arena Football League (AFL) announced the long-awaited return of the Albany Firebirds, which previously competed in the AFL from 1990 to 2000 and captured an ArenaBowl title in 1999 before relocating to Indianapolis.
The franchise will be owned by a group that includes Mike Kwarta, Andy Guelcher and Rich Szesnat as the Firebirds return to the gridiron to play its home games at MVP Arena. Most recently, Kwarta owned the Albany Empire, which played in the National Arena League (NAL) and won championships in 2 of the past 3 seasons.
"On behalf of our ownership group, I would like to thank Governor Hochul, County Executive Dan McCoy, Assemblymember John McDonald, Assemblymember Pat Fahy, and MVP Arena General Manager Bob Belber for all their efforts in helping get a team back to Albany for the 2024 season," Kwarta said. "As we have said before, it is all about sustainability. You need a solid base to build a future, and between our ownership group, the help of the community, and its leaders, football is here to stay."
As part of the team's return to the AFL, Jeff Levack will serve as the Team President and Damon Ware will be the organization's general manager and head coach. Both Levack and Ware played integral roles in leading the previous Albany franchise to consecutive titles in the NAL.
The revival of the Firebirds in the AFL signifies the latest chapter in Albany's deep-rooted history with arena football. After the original Firebirds franchise relocated and rebranded in Indianapolis, a new Albany team was formed in AF2 - the AFL's developmental league - and played as the Conquest before converting back to the Firebirds in 2009.
The Albany Firebirds are the latest team to be announced by the AFL, coming on the heels of the announcements around the Rapid City Marshals, Washington, Orlando Predators, Billings Outlaws and West Texas Desert Hawks.
For more information on the Albany Firebirds, please visit Firebirdsarenafootball.com and follow the team on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
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