Arena Football: Back in the Nation's Capital
The year was 1987 and the Arena Football League was a new face in the professional football scene. The Washington Commandos played throughout out D.C., Maryland and Virginia from 1987-1990, opening the inaugural season away against the Pittsburgh Gladiators. The Commandos lost that game 46-48 and would go on to win the next one, Pittsburgh would make the playoffs and later become the Tampa Bay Storm. Washington struggled in its short existence as an AFL team.
Finishing just 2-4 that season, the Commandos were surprisingly close to a better year, losing most games by just one score. The following year Washington would have a brief hiatus. '89 and '90 would be just as disheartening, closing out those seasons 0-4 and 2-6 respectively. After a failed bid in the late 90's, the AFL was finally on it's way back to Washington, D.C. with an announcement from Monumental Sports & Entertainment in March of 2016.
"Monumental Sports & Entertainment has given me a great opportunity to help launch its AFL team, and I look forward to the challenge and to bringing the excitement of the AFL to Washington,” said Coach Cokinos shortly after being brought on board. After a rocky off season for the league where several teams folded and two joined other indoor football leagues, it's reassuring to have a coach with such a positive outlook.
“It is about the fans, the community. It’s a fan-friendly sport . . . we have ownership with Monumental, and you have the Verizon Center, and you have the backing, you have the group in Cleveland that own the Cavaliers, and in Tampa, who own the Lightning. If you keep expanding with those type of ownerships, you can create a pretty special league,” Cokinos said.
A special league indeed, with ownership groups' already established in arenas where their NBA and NHL teams play, the AFL will probably look to continue to expand into new cities in a similar way. Technology is also helping the league grow faster than ever, some Valor and Brigade games are available through Monumental's streaming service, I even caught some of the Week 1 game between Tampa Bay and Cleveland on Facebook Live. Last month new partnerships between ActionStreamer, Greenfly and Monumental were announced, creating an even more interactive, fan-engaged experience.
From ActionStreamer, wearable wide-angle, real-time cameras will bring you into the action for replays and highlights in game. Being able to see what the players see? How cool is that? You can even download the Monumental Sports Network app on your Xbox One now. Maybe "snap" that and watch some new, original content direct from the players and coaching staff while gaming, all thanks to Greenfly. Don't have an Xbox One? The app is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and more.
After that electrifying first game between Washington and Baltimore, it's hard to not want more content. And now we can have it. Check out The Indoor Game on MonSportsNet if you haven't already
Jon studied Business Management at the University of Pittsburgh and is originally from Maryland. An avid DMV sports fan, he often attends Capitals, Orioles, Wizards and Redskins games. Now a Washington Valor season plan holder and columnist for ArenaFan, he`ll be at every home game covering the team. He spends his free time with friends and family and freelancing graphic design projects. You can follow Jon on Twitter @5FIFTY3