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AFL assumes control of Outlaws, VooDoo, announcement expected this week

Adam Markowitz
Sunday July 12, 2015


Ever since the return of the Arena Football League in 2010, the league has had a history of having to take over franchises to more or less bail out their existing ownership. The expansion Las Vegas Outlaws and the New Orleans VooDoo can now be added to that list.

The AFL is expected to make an announcement early this week confirming the takeover of the two troubled franchises.

The VooDoo had virtually all of their home games in the first month and a half of the season, hosting just twice from May 30 through the end of the year. New Orleans has yet to have a crowd this season beyond 4,131 fans, something that isn't projected to change next weekend in its final home game against the Tampa Bay Storm.

New Orleans' average attendance of 3,839 fans per game is the lowest in its franchise's history. The Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, who moved from Shreveport to New Orleans prior to the 2011 season, averaged 3,967 fans per game in their one season in the AFL in 2010.

Sources have confirmed to ArenaFan that all of the employees of the VooDoo were dismissed last week but were retained on week-to-week contracts.

It is only 11 months ago that the Outlaws were formally announced as the then 15th team of the AFL prior to ArenaBowl XXVII.

Even though the team has successfully played every game in its existence without delay, the argument could be made that the franchise never really got off of the ground in spite of the fact that rock n' roll superstar Vince Neil of Motley Crue was a part of the team's ownership group.

Virtually all of the home games for the Outlaws have had resulted in changes of the attendance figures from what was announced at the game to the numbers stated in the official box scores the next day.

Since the opening game in franchise history when there was an announced attendance of 9,607 fans, attendance has dropped dramatically in Sin City. The team is averaging 5,495 fans per game this year, bottoming out with a reported 3,255, 2,166 and 3,497 fans in their last three home games since the start of June.

Playing conditions at the Thomas & Mack Center have been questioned by players and coaches privately all season long. The staff in Las Vegas was never really filled out and has since been cut to bare bones.

In both cases, Commissioner Scott Butera is reportedly actively seeking new ownership groups for both franchises.

Sources have confirmed to ArenaFan that there were discussions about suspending operations for both teams prior to the end of the season, which would have resulted in forfeits or canceled games. The only game in AFL history which was forfeited or canceled was in 2012 when the Cleveland Gladiators forfeited to the Pittsburgh Power when the majority of the team didn't show up for the game as a part of labor dispute.

The league has committed to keeping the Outlaws and the VooDoo operating through the end of the season and will not be canceling games.

The history of league-owned teams isn't good and clearly doesn't bode well for the Outlaws or the VooDoo. The AFL has only successfully placed one team with a new owner after assuming control, that being the Orlando Predators last season.


 
Adam Markowitz is an accountant and a freelance sports writer living in Orlando. As a Florida State graduate with degrees in music and history, the garnet and gold will forever be a part of him, but he bleeds the black and red of the Orlando Predators like none other. Adam has been following the AFL since 1991 and has been at well over 200 games, including 16 ArenaBowls. You can follow Adam on Twitter @AFLGuru.
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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