It makes me throw up in my mouth to see what has transpired in the Arena Football League. A couple years ago, the AFL was gaining in popularity and was landing game coverage with big-time TV stations like NBC and ESPN. But, just like the housing market during its peak time, the AFL was getting over-inflated with hype, greed, and impatience. Players’ salaries were going up like crazy . . . some players were getting paid nearly $200K per season. Yes, $200K for an arena football player!! With such a ridiculous salary and incredibly greedy owners in a sport with a small following, this league was sure to run into trouble in rapid fashion. Heck, you almost knew something was going to get messed up when BON JOVI became a part of the mix! Hey, I love his music, too, but I’m not sure he was meant to be on the business side of football.
Sure enough, the league failed. Due to the owners being unable to come up with an agreement, the 2009 season was cancelled. Despite this disheartening disappointment, the league made us all believe that this was just temporary. They made us believe that arena football would resume in 2010. Well, that looks like to be a joke, as well. While not 100% official, the AFL is on the verge of declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is not for restructuring . . . it’s for DISEAPPEARING!
This league that prided itself on being “FAN FRIENDLY” is proving to be anything but that. I live in the Orlando, Florida area and have buying season tickets for the Orlando Predators for the past 5 years. In June of 2008, I ordered two sets of season tickets at $150 apiece, for the 2009 season. Obviously, this season was cancelled, so the Predators gave me the option of taking a full refund or letting the money stay put and collect interest toward buying tickets for the 2010 season. I wasn’t too confident that the AFL would ever come back, so I opted for the full refund after the official cancellation, which came around December of 2008. A couple of months later, I received my “PARTIAL” refund. Yes, I said PARTIAL. They mailed me a check for around $100 instead of $300. The payment included a letter that stated this was an INSTALLMENT plan refund, and that I would have to wait until the summer to receive my next installment, which I’m guessing would’ve been another $100. I was supposed to receive the 2nd installment by June 2009, but nope, never got it. I called the Orlando Predators in late June and they informed me that the 2010 season was “A Go” and that tickets would go on sale around August 2009. As far as the refunds were concerned, they were FROZEN. No further “installments” were being issued. WOW, talk about holding your money hostage!!
And, now it’s August 2009 and we have word of the pending bankruptcy. I called the front office to ask about refunds if the season is canceled, but I received no answer. Virtually, the entire Predators staff is non-existent. Allegedly, there is only one person manning the Predators office . . . and one can’t even be sure he is even answering the phone, which is presumably ringing off the hook right now from angry season ticket holders.
So the question looms . . . will us season ticket holders ever see our money back? The answer seems doubtful. They held our money hostage, all the while giving us false promises and false hope of a triumphant return. I, like many other arena football fans, feel betrayed. Not only was I lied to, but I was robbed of my hard-earned money. I end up losing $200 . . . other people lost a lot more than that. There was a family of 7 that always sat in front of me. Do the math . . . 7 x $150, equals a total of $1050 . . . if they had asked for the refund, they are short about $700 . . . if they didn’t, they are short $1050. Either way, it’s safe to say that they’re probably a tad bit TICKED OFF, as am I.
The funny thing is that they mentioned possibly coming back in some shape or form after a bankruptcy. Seriously? Don’t bother! The AFL is not Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League . . . it can’t cancel a season, and then suddenly regain all of their fans a year later when returning. The AFL fan base was already small, and not much of us were even “hardcore,” so the chances of us returning as loyal fans to this league are basically ZILCH. I gave my time to this team and got burned in return. I’m ready for something new. How about a professional kickball league??
Goodbye, AFL . . . it’s a shame that such a fun experience had to end in such a deceitful and shameless manner.