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BlitzburghRockCity
06-19-2007, 09:32 AM
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07170/795298-66.stm



http://www.post-gazette.com/images4/20070619pg_Gladiators2_450.jpg

The Pittsburgh Gladiators prepare for a game against Chicago at Robinson Township Community Park in June 1987. The Gladiators were one of the inaugural teams in the Arena Football League.


By Tyler Batiste
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A replacement for Mellon Arena is expected to be ready for the start of the 2009-10 NHL season, and that might prompt another new addition for Pittsburgh: an Arena Football League team.

On the heels of the Arena Football League's 20th anniversary, Chris McCloskey, the league's executive vice president of communications, recently confirmed in a statement to the Post-Gazette that there have been preliminary talks about bringing an expansion team to Pittsburgh in the near future.

"We have had discussions with multiple potential ownership groups in recent years and months about Pittsburgh," McCloskey said. "The league remains bullish about the market for obvious reasons."

McCloskey declined to reveal the names of the potential ownership groups but said the candidates are "recognizable."

However, representatives for the Penguins, who will be responsible for booking events at the new arena, and Mellon Arena manager SMG said yesterday they have not had any recent contact with anyone interested in starting a team in Pittsburgh.

SMG has received calls the past couple of years from people interested in an arena football team, but those inquiries never got beyond the initial discussion stage, said Hank Abate, vice president of arenas for SMG. There have been no recent conversations, he said.

Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said no one has contacted the team about an interest in starting an arena football team. But he added the new arena is "going to create a lot of opportunities for sports and entertainment events in Pittsburgh and we're certainly going to explore those as this process goes along."

McCloskey said the league judges possible cities for expansion on three criteria: Whether it is a good football market, whether there is a suitable arena and whether there is a quality and committed ownership.

The question of a market for football in the Pittsburgh area has never been a difficult one, but the last two criteria will determine if the Steelers will have to share a small part of the spotlight with another squad.

"The stumbling block for the ownership groups has always been the arena situation," McCloskey said. "Since that is in the initial stages of being resolved, we are optimistic that the AFL will return to Pittsburgh in the near future."

McCloskey said the AFL is looking to add a 20th franchise in time for the 2008 season, with the prime contenders for a new team being Washington, D.C., and South Florida.

If the AFL does find its way back to Pittsburgh, it will be a return 16 years in the making. The Pittsburgh Gladiators were one of the league's inaugural teams and existed for four seasons before relocating and changing their name to the Tampa Bay Storm after the 1990 season.

The franchise has since experienced success rivaled by few others in the AFL, winning five Arena Bowl championships and making 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1991-2005.

Not only do the Gladiators hold the distinction of being one of the league's first teams, but Pittsburgh also has the honor of being the host of the AFL's first game.

The Gladiators played the Washington Commandos in front of 12,117 fans June 19, 1987, at the Civic Arena.

Pittsburgh won that game, 48-46, and finished the season 4-2 before losing to the Denver Dynamite in Arena Bowl I.

The league has expanded over the years in several areas, including the number of teams and popularity of the sport.

That inaugural season had teams based in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Denver and Chicago. Through years of multiple expansions and contractions, the league now boasts 19 franchises that play a 17-week, 16-game regular season. In 2000, the AFL started its own minor-league system, af2, which now has 30 teams based in small-market cities, such as Louisville, Ky., and Boise, Idaho.

The AFL further cemented its status when it entered a television agreement with NBC in 2003. In December 2006, ESPN purchased a minority stake in the league and signed a deal to televise a minimum of 26 games per season.

So far this season, the AFL has an average attendance of around 12,300, and the league's telecasts on ESPN have averaged a 0.3 national rating, which McCloskey said is on par with preseason predictions.

Few could have predicted that the AFL would still be around 20 years after its inception, and Greg Hopkins is one person who has seen firsthand the league's rising status.

An 11-year veteran of the AFL, Hopkins is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Avengers. He said he distinctly remembers the early days when players were barely noticed by hometown fans, much less fans in opposing cities.

"We'd jump on a commercial fight and sit down and someone would ask, 'What sports team are you guys with?' " Hopkins said.

When the response was 'We play arena football,' looks of confusion by passengers were not out of the ordinary, and a brief description of the league's contrasts to the NFL -- the 50-yard field, the 8-yard end zones and no punting, to name a few -- would often follow.

These days, Hopkins said teams and the AFL as a whole are much more recognizable because of exposure and longevity.

"It makes sense, and [fans] see it now," he said. "It's more available to the public."

Hopkins, who is a Waynesburg native and played collegiately at Slippery Rock, got his first taste of the AFL in 1988, when the Gladiators played host to the New England Steamrollers. He said he still has the ticket from the game stored away in an old scrapbook and maybe his first AFL experience triggered an interest that has lasted 19 years.

"Maybe I subconsciously sparked something in the back of my mind," he said.

Growing up 60 miles from Pittsburgh, Hopkins is familiar with the power of football in southwestern Pennsylvania, leading him to believe that another pro football team could thrive in the area.

"We've got all the blue-collar, hard core football fans that would follow a team if it was brought to Pittsburgh," he said. "I think it would do really well."

AZ_Steeler
06-19-2007, 12:43 PM
That would be awesome... I'm missing football right now and watching a Pittsburgh team play some football in the summer would be cool! :cope:

SteelCityMan786
06-19-2007, 12:51 PM
That would be awesome... I'm missing football right now and watching a Pittsburgh team play some football in the summer would be cool! :cope:

That's for sure. Looking forward to it!

BlitzburghRockCity
06-19-2007, 12:55 PM
I'd like to see it too, I wonder though how much the city can support it though with the Steelers, the Pens and their new Arena, the Pirates, and the Panthers.

I'd love to see the city get an AFL team, I'd definitely watch it and support them.

Black@Gold Forever32
06-19-2007, 02:29 PM
I don't like Arena Football and don't watch it....But if Pittsburgh did get a team again then I would follow them for sure....Its all about the Burgh for me....Hell I still support the Buccos......lol

BRICKTOWN BEAST
06-19-2007, 04:45 PM
Yeah I'm not in to arena football that much. Thers no running in it and it's all about speed. I guess it can hold you off before the NFL starts. I still like NFL Europa better than any other football league though which is now getting more attention.

SteelersfaninPhilly
06-19-2007, 06:09 PM
I can never comprehend. How people can watch second rate football like the AFL.

BlitzburghRockCity
06-19-2007, 06:22 PM
I watch it from time to time as well, but Im hardly an avid fan of it. It's a good stop gap during the summer but I do prefer NFLE much more, atleast you can see some players from your team on there and watch all the young prospects get better.

Plus their uniforms are cool too, well atleast some of them :lol: Like 32 mentioned, I'll support a Pittsburgh AFL team because it's all about Pittsburgh :towelwave:

SteelCityMan786
06-20-2007, 01:20 AM
I happen to know what an AFL experience is like just from having an AIFA team near my town and having seen an AFL Game.

It's like your going to bar and everything is casual then later a football game breaks out and you feel like you're on top of the action.

Koopa
06-20-2007, 01:40 AM
cool, another team for my desperados to beat up on

Bassman D
06-20-2007, 01:41 AM
I can never comprehend. How people can watch second rate football like the AFL.


I resisted the AFL for a few seasons, but the Desperados are a helluva lot of fun to watch. Is it second rate? Well....can't really argue with you there......but it's fast paced, exciting, and they really fling it around! It's not the NFL, but it's fun!

Prosdo
06-20-2007, 03:50 PM
I'd be for it. Always good to have another sporting team.

SteelCityMan786
06-20-2007, 05:22 PM
cool, another team for my desperados to beat up on

Sorta like how they beat my predators in the National Conference Championship Game last year eh Koop? :lol: oops. that's right the Predators won.

Koopa
06-20-2007, 07:58 PM
Sorta like how they beat my predators in the National Conference Championship Game last year eh Koop? :lol: oops. that's right the Predators won.

last year, they didn't know how to win, this year is a much hungrier team

Dan
06-21-2007, 03:50 AM
the AFL is awsome, it would be great for Pittsburgh to have a team. On a side note, does anyone know who the reigning champs of Arena Football are? That's right, the Chicago Rush

ARKIESTEEL
06-21-2007, 01:39 PM
We had a NIFL team here in Fayetteville for one season .... I bought season tickets went to ever game they won 2 times it was low budget but they had the Hooter girls there at ever game and they sold beer and whisky so it was a blast. I got to meet Bam Morris he was playing for a team from Texas the Katy Copperheads and he blowed up our D on ever run I talked to him for a little bit he seemed real sorry for the way he done the Steelers.


But I do like AFL and wish we had another team here even if it was a junk team

Forged in Steel
06-21-2007, 08:46 PM
Yes! I hope this will go through. It gets boring without the Steelers over the Summer. Pittsburgh also needs an NBA team.

manofsteel
06-22-2007, 06:33 PM
Im not a bif fan of arena football. But I could use a fix to the football withdraw. I support everything Pittsburgh and if its an AFL team lets do it
P.S. maybe they will be black and gold too

STEEL CITY TANK
07-19-2008, 12:30 PM
Im not a bif fan of arena football. But I could use a fix to the football withdraw. I support everything Pittsburgh and if its an AFL team lets do it
P.S. maybe they will be black and gold too

I'd be pretty upset if the team colors weren't black & gold

SteelerDan43
07-19-2008, 01:37 PM
Wow this thread is a blast from the past

SteelerSteve
07-19-2008, 07:21 PM
I can rarely finish an arena game, but if Pittsburgh had an arena team with black and gold uni's then I probably would watch them. We have the Spokane Shock an AF2 team back home, and I went to a few of their games which was pretty cool, they won the AF2 championship a couple seasons ago. BTW The desperados are alot like the cowboys, they dominate in the regular season and choke in the playoffs.

steelcityrockers
07-20-2008, 12:56 PM
I love the AFL, I am not sure why. Probably because I miss football so much at this point. I really don't follow it and couldn't even name you all the teams, but it entertains me.

SteelerSteve
07-20-2008, 02:40 PM
I love the AFL, I am not sure why. Probably because I miss football so much at this point. I really don't follow it and couldn't even name you all the teams, but it entertains me.The most entertaining part is when the qb passes over the middle a little too high and the wr gets destroyed trying to come down with it.:yesnod:

steelcityrockers
07-20-2008, 05:14 PM
I think it is funny when they catch it off the net. And in the last Soul game, Mike Brown (I think) returned a kick for a TD by literally jumping over a kicker. It was great.

SteelerSteve
07-20-2008, 09:45 PM
I think it is funny when they catch it off the net. And in the last Soul game, Mike Brown (I think) returned a kick for a TD by literally jumping over a kicker. It was great.yeah, I think I saw that. It was the last play of the game right?

BlitzburghRockCity
07-21-2008, 08:27 PM
Wow this thread is a blast from the past

I was just thinking that myself when I saw it yesterday :lol:

I wonder if the city of Pittsburgh could financially support another sports team and make it a success. The fans already spend so much on the Steelers, Pens, Pirates, and Panthers so adding another one might be a bit hard but if this ever comes about I'll cheer for them.

SteelCityMan786
07-21-2008, 09:11 PM
I was just thinking that myself when I saw it yesterday :lol:

I wonder if the city of Pittsburgh could financially support another sports team and make it a success. The fans already spend so much on the Steelers, Pens, Pirates, and Panthers so adding another one might be a bit hard but if this ever comes about I'll cheer for them.

Yeah considering the Penguins are getting 100% ticket revenues to the best of my knowledge in the new arena deal.

floodcitygirl
08-19-2008, 10:51 AM
Bump to get spam off the front page

SteelerDan43
08-19-2008, 07:28 PM
Yeah considering the Penguins are getting 100% ticket revenues to the best of my knowledge in the new arena deal.

The Pens would not get all the ticket revenue for an AFL team

AZ_Steeler
08-19-2008, 07:47 PM
Bump to get spam off the front page

Good call FCG :bigthumb:

SteelCityMan786
08-19-2008, 08:04 PM
The Pens would not get all the ticket revenue for an AFL team

They're supposed to get a shiat load of the revenue as far as I'm aware though.