Here's a fact you probably didn't know: next season will mark the Arena Football League's 30th in existence. Playing its seasons in the spring and summer and, obviously, indoors, the AFL managed to carve enough of a niche to become what the USFL, the XFL, the UFL and a host of others could not -- to become America's second football league. Dating back to 1987, the ArenaBowl has drawn as many as 25,000 spectators in the past with many more watching a national broadcast on ABC.
Unfortunately for the AFL, the past is the past and the present isn't being kind to them.
The AFL has lost five teams in the past week and two today alone -- the Arizona Rattlers announced Tuesday they will join the Jacksonville and Orlando franchises in moving to another indoor football league, while the LA KISS have apparently folded. (The Portland Steel also folded this offseason.)
This leaves only four franchises -- the Cleveland Gladiators, Philadelphia Soul, Tampa Bay Storm and Washington Valor, a new addition -- to compete in the AFL's 30th season.
"The Arena Football League is focused on solidifying its foundation for the long term and is in active conversations with strong, experienced ownership groups in markets where there is already a pro sports signature in place," the league said in a statement. "The addition of the Washington Valor this coming season provides a solid example of where we are headed. Ultimately, we continue to be focused on positioning and growing the league over the long term to deliver the great game, compelling broadcasts and arena experience our fans have come to expect."
To be clear, this isn't the lowest the AFL has ever found itself. The entire 2009 season was cancelled before coming back in 2010 with a TV contract with NFL Network.
Here's hoping the AFL can have a similar rebound.