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League hands in Playoff cookie jar not uncommon

Tim Capper
Monday August 10, 2015

The league closed up shop on the New Orleans VooDoo and Las Vegas Outlaws, sending tremors through the league and changed the fortunes for one team that had been eliminated from the 2015 playoffs. The Portland Thunder were awarded the fourth seed in the National Conference after the Arena Football League Board of Directors voted to cease operations in Sin City. 

What might not be known is that the league has stepped in before to make modifications to the playoff structure.
In the history of arena football, the league has made a total of five decisions that had a major effect on a team’s role in the playoffs.
2002 Quad City Steamwheelers (af2): The team was banned prior to the 2002 season for "violating the single-entity player's compensation rule”.
2004 New York Dragons (AFL): The team finished 9-7 and first in the Eastern Division but did not qualify for a playoff spot. During the 2003 offseason, the playoff rules were modified so the top eight teams, based on overall record, would qualify. Division winners weren’t guaranteed a berth. The rules were changed prior to the 2005 season guaranteeing a playoff spot for any division winner.
2009 Florida Firecats (af2): The team finished 7-9 and qualified for the playoffs on the field. But due to monetary issues off the field, the team was disqualified from the playoffs.
2013 Chicago Rush (AFL): Major ownership issues plagued this team. The team went through two owners before the league took over the Rush in May. Due to what seemed like cost-cutting measures, the team played its last three home games in Rockford, IL. The Rush won the Central Division with a 10-8 record. Instead of playing at home, Chicago was forced by the league to play its “home” playoff game in Spokane, WA.
2015 Las Vegas Outlaws (AFL): This story is all too fresh in our minds. The league took over Las Vegas and New Orleans in July, then cancelled the Outlaws/VooDoo Week 18 game and gave each team a tie in the standings. Finally, the league folded the two teams at the end of the regular season. Las Vegas had qualified for the playoffs based on winning percentage. Since the team folded on the eve of the playoffs, the Thunder were awarded the last playoff berth.
League history shows that only two games have never been played in league history. The first of those games was during the labor strife of 2012 when the Cleveland Gladiators forfeited to the Pittsburgh Power. The second was in Week 18 as a financial measure for the VooDoo and the Outlaws. A team has never folded during the season. The league has had to step in and make the hard financial decisions. In this case, that now includes removing a team from the playoffs.

Tim Capper has been a staff member of ArenaFan since 2000 and been the host of AFL Tonight since its inception in 2001. Tim being an avid arena football fan since 1987, has attended games in 16 different cities, including 11 ArenaBowls. He currently lives in Montreal, Canada with his wife Karen. You can follow Tim on Twitter at @reppact
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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