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Key Dates

  • February 11, 1981.
    While watching an indoor soccer game at Madison Square Garden, JAMES FOSTER draws an outline of a miniature football field over a hockey rink on a manila envelope. From the diagram will evolve an exciting adaptation of America's favorite sport.
  • April 27, 1986.
    AFL "test game" is held in Rockford, Ill.
  • February 26, 1987.
    Positive public response from test game leads to "showcase game" at Chicago's Rosemont Horizon before 8,200 fans.
  • June 19, 1987.
    The AFL debuts with a six-game regular season with four teams: the Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite, Pittsburgh Gladiators and Washington Commandos. A crowd of 12,117 fans witness the inaugural game, a 48-46 victory for Pittsburgh over Washington.
  • August 1, 1987.
    Denver wins the first ArenaBowl, 45-16, over Pittsburgh. ArenaBowl I was aired nationally on ESPN and played in front of 13,232 fans.
  • July 30, 1988.
    Detroit defeats Chicago, 24-13, in ArenaBowl II in front of 15,018.
  • August 18, 1989.
    Detroit defeats Pittsburgh, 39-26, in ArenaBowl III in front of 12,046.
  • November 16, 1989.
    The League conducts its first international exhibition game in Paris, France in front of 13,500 fans. Two days later, another contest is held in London, England as 12,000 fans see the game for the first time.
  • March 27, 1990.
    The U.S. Patent Office issues patent No. 4,911,433 for Arena Football Game System, making the AFL the only sports league in history to play a patented, rival-free game.
  • August 11, 1990.
    Detroit defeats Dallas, 51-27, to win its third straight ArenaBowl (ArenaBowl IV) in front of a home crowd of 19,875.
  • 1991.
    The League expands to eight teams, including the debut of the Orlando Predators.
  • August 17, 1991.
    Tampa Bay defeats Detroit, 48-42, in ArenaBowl V, winning its first of five ArenaBowl titles, in front of 20,357.
  • 1992.
    JERRY COLANGELO, four-time winner of the NBA's Executive of the Year award, brings Arena Football to Phoenix. The Arizona Rattlers name former Dallas Cowboys quarterback DANNY WHITE Head Coach.
  • August 22, 1992.
    Detroit claims its fourth AFL title at ArenaBowl VI, winning 56-38 over the Orlando Predators in front of 13,680.
  • August 21, 1993.
    In front of 12,989 fans, Tampa Bay defeats Detroit, 51-31, at ArenaBowl VII.
  • September 2, 1994.
    Arizona wins its first championship by defeating Orlando, 36-31, in front of 14,368 at ArenaBowl VIII.
  • September 1, 1995.
    ArenaBowl IX plays host to the highest-attended AFL game in history. Tampa Bay's 48-35 victory over Orlando is witnessed by 25,087 fans at the Thunderdome in St. Petersburg, FL.
  • 1996.
    In the League's 10th season (15 teams), more than one million fans attend games for the first time in league history.
  • 1996.
    St. Louis FB/LB BERNARD HALL sets the AFL rookie record for rushing touchdowns in a single season with 29. The record was broken in 2011 by Dallas RB DERRICK ROSS who recorded 39.
  • August 26, 1996.
    Tampa Bay travels to Des Moines to win ArenaBowl X, 42-38, over the Iowa Barnstormers, who are led by QB KURT WARNER.
  • November, 1996.
    DAVID BAKER is named AFL Commissioner.
  • 1997.
    The Arena Football Hall of Fame inducts its first class.
  • August 25, 1997.
    Arizona wins ArenaBowl XI, 55-33, handing Iowa its second straight ArenaBowl loss.
  • June 3, 1998.
    The AFL Board of Directors approves the application of New Orleans Saints owner TOM BENSON to place a team in New Orleans, marking the first AFL team with NFL ownership.
  • August 23, 1998.
    The AFL makes its network-TV debut on ABC when ArenaBowl XII is viewed by more than two million fans. Orlando defeats Tampa Bay, 62-31, in front of 17,222 fans.
  • April 1999.
    The AFL unveils its Mission Statement and Fans' Bill of Rights, a first among professional sports.
  • May 14, 1999.
    Houston QB CLINT DOLEZELCLINT throws for 479 yards, setting an AFL record for single-game passing yards.
  • August 21, 1999.
    The Albany Firebirds celebrate their 10th Anniversary with an ArenaBowl XIII championship. Albany defeats Orlando, 59-48, in front of 13,652.
  • August 24, 1999.
    The AFL Board of Directors approves the final four applications for arenafootball2 (af2) - the AFL's development league - to begin play in April 2000.
  • 2000.
    New NFL owners sign on, including JERRY JONES SR. and DANIEL SNYDER. More than two million fans attend regular-season games in the 32 markets competing in both the AFL and af2.
  • August 20, 2000.
    Orlando defeats Nashville, 41-38, in front of 15,989 to claim the ArenaBowl XIV title.
  • 2001.
    Arena Football is played in 47 combined markets. The Detroit Fury are the first active team with NFL ownership (Detroit Lions' WILLIAM FORD JR.). Arena Football adds blue-chip sponsors Ford Trucks and U.S. Army, and creates an internet partnership with
  • 2001.
    New York Dragons QB AARON GARCIA sets AFL records for most touchdown passes in a single season (104) and most touchdown passes in a single game (11 TDs, New York Dragons defeat Carolina Cobras, 99-68, 7/7/2001).
  • August 18, 2001.
    PAT BOWLEN, owner of the Denver Broncos, along with former Broncos QB JOHN ELWAY, and Tennessee Titans owner "K.S." BUD ADAMS JR. are approved for future AFL teams in Denver and Nashville, respectively.
  • August 19, 2001.
    Grand Rapids wins its first AFL title by defeating Nashville, 64-42, in front of 11,217 at ArenaBowl XV.
  • 2001-02.
    The AFL continues international efforts, hosting Pacific Rim Training Camps in Hawaii and Australia, which feature more than 350 international players and coaches.
  • March 5, 2002.
    The AFL and NBC announce a broadcast partnership. NBC will televise AFL games on Sundays, including the playoffs and ArenaBowl, beginning in 2003. As part of the agreement, the AFL will begin its 2003 season in February instead of April.
  • August 18, 2002.
    San Jose head coach DARREN ARBET becomes the first African American Head Coach in history to win a pro football championship as the SaberCats win ArenaBowl XVI by defeating Arizona, 52-14, in front of 16,942 fans.
  • December 10, 2002.
    The AFL and Arena Football League Players association solidify a long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement that runs through 2010-the longest and most far-reaching in professional sports.
  • February 2, 2003.
    The AFL on NBC debuts to critical acclaim with four regional games. The expansion Colorado Crush host the Georgia Force in their inaugural game to a sellout crowd of 17,483 at the Pepsi Center.
  • May 13, 2003.
    New Orleans Saints owner TOM BENSON announces that the New Orleans VooDoo will begin play in February of 2004.
  • May 20, 2003.
    The final 2003 regular-season average attendance (11,397) finishes 15 percent higher than 2002.
  • June 22, 2003.
    The Tampa Bay Storm defeat the Arizona Rattlers, 43-29, in ArenaBowl XVII at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. The sold-out game draws the second-highest attendance (20,496) in ArenaBowl history.
  • July 10, 2003.
    The AFL Board of Directors approves an application for JON BON JOVI and CRAIG SPENCER to place a team in Philadelphia for 2004.
  • February 8, 2004.
    The AFL and Spalding debut the new design of the AFL's Official Game Ball when Tampa Bay and Orlando open the season.
  • June 3, 2004.
    AFL announces a multi-year partnership with NIKE, the first-ever exclusive "head-to-toe" uniform supplier/apparel partnership in its history, and with Upper Deck, the first-ever pact between the AFL and a sports trading card and memorabilia company.
  • June 7, 2004.
    ESPN The Magazine proclaims the AFL as "The Fifth Major."
  • June 8, 2004.
    Spalding is named the official football of Pop Warner and uses the AFL design.
  • June 27, 2004.
    San Jose claims its second ArenaBowl title in three seasons, as the SaberCats defeat the Arizona Rattlers in a thrilling 69-62 finish before a soldout (17,391) America West Arena.
  • July 5, 2004.
    Sports Illustrated's RICK REILLY makes the following statement about ArenaBowl XIX... "This sure as hell isn't the Super Bowl. Right now, it's better."
  • August 2, 2004.
    The Nashville Kats announce their return for 2005 under the ownership of Tennessee Titans owner K.S. "BUD" ADAMS, JR.
  • August 17, 2004.
    The AFL Board approves Atlanta Falcons owner ARTHUR M. BLANK as new owner of the AFL's Georgia Force.
  • September 20, 2004.
    The AFL Board approves an expansion team for Salt Lake City for 2006 season.
  • November 1, 2004.
    Country music superstar TIM MCGRAW joins the Nashville Kats ownership group.
  • November 15, 2004.
    The AFL teams up with NBC's primetime hit Las Vegas for a mini-movie, "Rumble in the Montecito," as part of the AFL's marketing and promotion plan for ArenaBowl XIX.
  • December 14, 2004.
    AFL and XOS Technologies, Inc. enter into a three-year partnership for XOS to design, produce and host the League's official Web site, and official Web site of the AFL's developmental league, af2 (
  • December 16, 2004.
    AFL and Fox Sports Networks announce a multi-year agreement to carry regular-season AFL games on 11 of FSN's owned and affiliated regional sports networks.
  • December 16, 2004.
    NFL Hall of Fame player and Chicago icon MIKE DITKA joins Chicago Rush ownership.
  • January 4, 2005.
    The first-ever AFL preview magazine published by American Media, hits newsstands nationwide.
  • June 10, 2005.
    The Wall Street Journal proclaims that Arena Football has "Found Its Footing" on its front page.
  • June 12, 2005.
    The Colorado Crush defeat the Georgia Force, 51-48, to win ArenaBowl XIX. Las Vegas' Thomas and Mack Center is the first-ever neutral site to host an ArenaBowl.
  • October 4, 2005.
    Commissioner David Baker announces that an ownership group led by TYLER PROCHNOW has been granted an AFL expansion team for Kansas City to begin play in 2006. The team is stocked with players from the New Orleans VooDoo, who are unable to compete in 2006 because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
  • January 18, 2006.
    A historical committee selects the 20 Greatest Players in AFL history as part of the League's 20th Season celebration. EDDIE BROWN, the former offensive specialist for the Albany and Indiana Firebirds, is voted No. 1. The committee also chooses the 20 greatest games, moments and teams.
  • January 27, 2006.
    The AFL kicks off its historic 20th Season when the Austin Wranglers defeat the Las Vegas Gladiators, 64-46, in Austin.
  • February 8, 2006.
    EA Sports' Arena Football is released to the public with critical acclaim. It is the first-ever AFL-themed game produced by the video game giant.
  • February 8, 2006.
    The AFL announces a sponsorship extension with Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership, who will continue its relationship as the AFL's Official Furniture Sale and Lease Ownership Store through the 2008 season.
  • February 17, 2006.
    The AFL and OLN reach an agreement naming OLN as the national cable television home for the AFL during its historic 20th Season. OLN will televise 11 regular-season games and one Wild Card playoff game during the 2006 season.
  • April 7, 2006.
    The AFL and Children's Miracle Network team up to create even more awareness for the network of children's hospitals throughout the country. The AFL uses its media inventory to air PSA's featuring AFL players.
  • April 26, 2006.
    Former NFL great DEION SANDERS becomes the most recent AFL celebrity owner when he joins the Austin Wranglers ownership group.
  • May 1, 2006.
    The AFL's cumulative 20-season attendance surpasses 20 million fans. The AFL's Week 14 attendance total of 108,244 catapults the league's overall attendance numbers to 20,069,791.
  • June 7, 2006.
    Orlando Predators defensive specialist KENNY MCENTYRE was selected as the Al Lucas Hero Award winner for 2006. He was chosen as the player who made the most significant contribution to both his community and the game of Arena Football. The award was created in honor of the late Los Angeles Avengers lineman Al Lucas, who believed in both giving back to his community and growing the AFL.
  • June 11, 2006.
    The Chicago Rush defeats the Orlando Predators, 69-61, to win ArenaBowl XX and capture their first-ever league crown. The crowd of 13,476 at the Thomas & Mack Center for the League's second-ever neutral-site championship game was up from the 10,822 who had attended the game in 2005, and set an AFL high for a game at the Thomas & Mack Center, surpassing 12,521 set by the Las Vegas Gladiators inaugural game in 2003.
  • October 6, 2006.
    Georgia Force DB CHRIS BROWN was the first player selected by the New Orleans VooDoo in the AFL's Expansion Draft conducted today. The VooDoo, who return to the AFL this season following a one-year hiatus due to Hurricane Katrina, selected 13 players from the 132 made available from the rosters of the League's 18 remaining teams and traded one other pick.
  • October 26, 2006.
    Russell Athletic, one of the world's leading sports apparel companies, is the new Official Uniform Supplier for the AFL beginning in 2007.
  • December 19, 2006.
    ESPN and the AFL enter into a five-year agreement that includes extensive multimedia rights and a minimum of 26 televised games per season, beginning in 2007. ESPN has also purchased a minority ownership stake in the AFL as part of the agreement that enhances ESPNs football programming lineup, the most comprehensive in sports television, with year-round football on Monday nights.
  • February 19, 2007.
    For the first time ever, the AFL is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when a historic and interactive exhibit in unveiled.
  • April 16, 2007.
    Dallas Desperados QB CLINT DOLEZEL becomes the first quarterback in professional football history to throw for 800 career touchdown passes.
  • June 12, 2007.
    ArenaBowl XXI New Orleans officially sells out six weeks prior to the game, making it the first neutral site sell-out in AFL history.
  • June 23, 2007.
    Utah Blaze QB JOE GERMAINE becomes first quarterback in AFL history to pass 5,000 yards in a single season. Germaine's 5,005 yards breaks the previous record of 4,841 set by San Jose QB MARK GRIEB in 2006.
  • June 23, 2007.
    Utah Blaze WR SIAHA BURLEY sets AFL single-season records in receptions (166) and receiving yards (2,129) becoming the first player in AFL history to amass 2,000 receiving yards in a single season.
  • June 24, 2007.
    Georgia Force QB CHRIS GREISEN sets the AFL record for most touchdown passes in a single season (117).
  • June 26, 2007.
    Regular season attendance for the 2007 season sets an all-time high in Week 17 with a total of 1,887,054 fans, breaking the previous record of 1,827,579 set in 2004.
  • July 18, 2007.
    Cumulative attendance (regular season, postseason) surpasses the two-million mark (2,005,834) for the first time in AFL history.
  • July 29, 2007.
    The San Jose SaberCats defeat the Columbus Destroyers, 55-33, to win ArenaBowl XXI and capture their third championship in six seasons. The sold-out crowd of 17,506 is the largest neutral site ArenaBowl attendance in AFL history.
  • August 1, 2007.
    Cumulative attendance for both AFL and af2 surpasses the three-million mark (3,160,206) for the second time in AFL history.
  • March 24, 2008.
    Grand Rapids tallies 92-points against the Kansas City Brigade. The mark ranked second in AFL history.
  • March 24, 2008.
    Grand Rapids K BRIAN GROWINS ties an AFL record for most 1-point extra points attempted in a game with 13.
  • July 27, 2008.
    The Philadelphia Soul capture their first ArenaBowl Championship after defeating the San Jose Sabercats in ArenaBowl XXII in New Orleans, LA.
  • December 8, 2009.
    The League Office of Arena Football One announces the league has been approved to purchase the former Arena Football League's assets after a brief absence. Included in the assets purchased are all of the former AFL and af2 team names and logos.
  • April 2, 2010.
    After developing a unique economic model, the AFL reopens with a nationally televised broadcast on NFL Network. The Chicago Rush defeat the Iowa Barnstormers, 61-43.
  • May 1, 2010.
    Tampa Bay Storm HEAD COACH TIM MARCUM becomes the first AFL coach to reach 200-wins after defeating the Arizona Rattlers, 62-61.
  • June 5, 2010.
    Jacksonville QB AARON GARCIA becomes the all-time career leader in passing touchdowns (932) in AFL history.
  • August 20, 2010.
    In their first year in AFL ranks, the Spokane Shock defeats the Tampa Bay Storm, 69-57, in ArenaBowl XXIII.
  • August 20, 2010.
    NFL Hall of Fame player and Pittsburgh icon LYNN SWANN joins expansion Pittsburgh Power ownership group.
  • January 13, 2011.
    Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment announces purchase of the Tampa Bay Storm.
  • April 12, 2011.
    The Tampa Bay Storm introduce former NFL great DERRICK BROOKS as the team's new President.
  • April 30, 2011.
    Jacksonville QB AARON GARCIA throws his 1,000 career touchdown pass, a professional football record.
  • August 12, 2011.
    The AFL announces first Hall of Fame class since 2002.
  • August 12, 2011.
    The Jacksonville Sharks defeat the Arizona Rattlers 73-70 in ArenaBowl XXIV for their first championship in team history.
  • January 17, 2012.
    Cleveland Cavaliers owner DAN GILBERT acquires the Cleveland Gladiators.
  • March 9, 2012.
    The Arena Football League begins its 25th season.
  • June 23, 2012.
    Utah QB TOMMY GRADY throws his 118th touchdown pass of the year, breaking the AFL record for most touchdown passes in a single season (previously 117) with five games left to play.
  • July 6, 2012.
    Arizona QB NICK DAVILA becomes the first quarterback in pro football history to record three consecutive 100-touchdown seasons, accomplishing the feat in his first three years in the AFL.
  • July 13, 2012.
    San Antonio QB AARON GARCIA breaks LAWRENCE SAMUELS' AFL record for most regular seasons games played in a career (207).
  • August 10, 2012.
    The Arizona Rattlers defeat the Philadelphia Soul 72-54 in ArenaBowl XXV for the franchise's first championship since 1997.
  • October 12, 2012.
    The AFL partners with FilmOn to launch "AFL Classic" programming on the world's first IP-delivered cable television platform.
  • November 13, 2012.
    CBS Sports Network and the AFL sign a two-year television agreement and announce that ArenaBowl XXVI will air live on CBS Television.