I was a huge AFL fan before the shutdown in 08 and attended the last 3 "real" Arena Bowls. Went to a couple dozen Philadelphia Soul games and Atlantic City Blackjack games from 2010 to the final shutdown in 2019, and while fun at times, the game just never really recovered from the lost season of 09. If there's a team locally I'm sure I'll attend some games, but unless the quality is close to the 02-08 levels, I doubt I'll be too invested in it.
All these spring or summer leagues of course cannot succeed, but of course indoor arena ball is a different game than full gridiron.
The shorter-field football leagues will find their niche, but the fact that there looks like in 2024 there will be at least five of them now is most telling.
No way do I see that there that much niche interest by fans in either football or smaller towns off-season to support them all or even three of the five.
On the flip side, I do feel that the league that allies itself best with any given entertainment outfit associated with sports betting may be the game changer when they profit indirectly from any given such partnership or sponsor.
There is a whole massive lot of bettors out there with a whole new generation who seek to bet on gridiron or arena football all year instead of merely on other sports in the gridiron off-season as in bygone times.
I'm guessing/hoping they go back to their roots and use the nets, Ironman football, and most importantly, pay a decent wage. Those other 3 leagues pay players between $100-300 a game. At the AFL's height of popularity, star players like Tony Graziani, Chris Jackson, and Aaron Garcia could pull $200-300k a year w/incentives. That's probably being a bit ambitious this go round, but a 20 man roster with $750k salary cap would make the league a bit more legit.
I can see the new AFL re-absorbing some of the IFL and NAL franchises depending on the legitimacy of this group. Apparently its financers are 2 Toronto businessmen, Anthony Rossi and Chris Chetty. The NAL is basically on its last legs, though the IFL has some strong franchises, especially Vegas, Arizona, and Sioux Falls.
You would know probably best here on the forum given your experience here, but how do you see or feel about the new generation of fans, as in about under 35, as compared to the heyday that ended in 2008 with the Great Recession back then?
Right now we are jittery economic ground of course, but it's also a pattern that various smaller sports leagues pop up in times of relative prosperity or improvement and then of course cannot weather the storms of life such as the Great Recession that began in late 2007 out West in the US or the pandemic that launched in March 2020 and is still hanging around in various spots.
Cross our fingers now, for this is the best start to a year since 2020.