SIFL and AIFA Announce Merger
November 9, 2010 - Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) News Release
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (November 9, 2010) - Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) commissioner Gary Tufford announced today (November 9,2010) that six teams from the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) have joined the SIFL as part of a merger between the two leagues. After engaging in strategic discussions, the two leagues have taken a major step that presents an immediate impact on the national indoor football landscape and creates a league that will stretch from New Jersey to Texas.
"The creation of this alliance is most important to teams that want to play regionally under a business model that more appropriately fits their market," Tufford said. "In order to accommodate such markets we had to build bridges. Regional play within a league structure makes perfect sense at this level. In a time when everyone is looking to be as trim as possible you have to look for partnerships that make sense. We are truly a regional league playing in divisions that define their territory yet play under a super regional umbrella footprint".
The six teams - Fayetteville (N.C.) Guard, Richmond (Va.) Raiders, Harrisburg (Pa.) Stampede, Erie (Pa.), Trenton (NJ) Steel and Carolina (NC) Speed will play as part of the SIFL in various divisions. AIFA co-founder John Morris who also owns the Harrisburg team, split up the AIFA between East and West entities, and AIFA co-founder Michael Mink will be the sole owner of the new AIFA West that will operate independent of the merger.
"We are very excited to partner with the SIFL, together we will make each other stronger," Morris said. "This merger will provide for great indoor football all along the east coast and through the southeast and Texas."
Both Tufford and Morris are seasoned veterans in the business and bring a wealth of knowledge to the alliance. Tufford is a career long football executive and former pro player and coach who has over 30 years experience in pro football and oversees the SIFL from its Florida office. Morris is a successful business owner and entrepreneur. He will concentrate on his team's operations and act as a special consultant to the league.
The SIFL was founded by Thom Hager in 2008 out of his desire to create an economic model that allows teams to compete on the field while ensuring long-term viability in the business community. With an economic model heralded as being the future in minor league football, the SIFL enters its
third season. The SIFL has grown from its original six teams to the current 16 teams. Hager is also the owner of the Lake Charles-based Louisiana Swashbucklers, one of indoor footballs most storied franchises.
The AIFA was formed in October, 2006 by Mink and Morris from a combination of teams from existing indoor leagues and expansion markets for the purpose of giving players a platform to excel and work to continue their football careers at a higher level.
"We were proud to see a number of our players fulfill their dreams of playing at the next level," said Morris. "In its four seasons, the AIFA grew from a regional league to a national entity and also was at the forefront of national television exposure for its league members."
"Now that we (SIFL) have extended our footprint into a "super regional" that includes the northeast it is imperative that we not only grow these new teams but also nurture our existing ones. We have a responsibility to the teams, fans and the sport itself to create great rivalries, quality entertainment and affordable budgets" said Tufford.
The SIFL will kick off the 2011 season in March with 16 teams in all. The member teams are: Erie, PA, Harrisburg PA, Trenton, NJ, Richmond, VA, Fayetteville, NC, Charlotte, NC, Columbus, GA, Albany, GA, Huntsville, AL, Mobile, AL, Lafayette, LA, Lake Charles, LA, Houston, TX, Corpus Christi, TX, Rio Grande Valley, TX, Abilene, TX.
For more information regarding the leagues log onto www.southernifl.com
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