The Arena Football League is back with a new revival of the league under a new ownership group carrying on the namesake of the league that began in 1986. After only the first of the regular season, a team has already folded. There have been a multitude of promises unkept that have hung over the league’s relaunch like a storm cloud.

Promises Unkept

The short explanation as to why the league is experiencing so much adversity is that the leadership of the AFL has failed to deliver on many promises. Per anonymous sources, there have been a multitude of promises made by the AFL’s leadership that never came to fruition.

My sources have explained that their team was originally promised that the league would cover 75% of their team’s player salary expenses. The pay for the league was set to $1,000 per game. The league was promising to cover that for at least 8 different teams leaving them to pay just the remaining $250 per game to each player. Additionally, all 4 league-owned teams (the Georgia Force, Louisiana VooDoo, Minnesota Myth, and Philadelphia Soul) have not paid their players for week 1. Some of the individually owned teams have paid the entire bill of the $1000 to each player for week 1 while some others have only paid the $250 that they were budgeting for.

AFL teams were originally offered workman’s comp from the league which never ended up being provided.

AFL teams were told that there would be a travel sponsor in place that would result in severely discounted flights from two different airlines that fell through.

AFL teams were promised 3 sets of jerseys which were going to be manufactured by BSM. They shipped from Guatemala and indicating they were not manufactured by BSM. However, they did have a BSM patch on them.

AFL Teams were promised to be provided with Nike sideline gear. They were told of claims that there was a partnership with Nike. The sideline gear never arrived. Most teams still had their employees wearing Nike products per the league rules regardless of the failed delivery.

Some AFL teams were promised NFL Network games at home only to be told their arenas were not acceptable for NFL Network and were removed from the schedule 2 days before week 1.

My source’s understanding was that every AFL team paid $10,000 each for 700 AFL footballs that would be team-branded. My source’s team received far below this amount at just under 100.

The AFL was going to manage and keep 100% of the sports betting money. Additionally, 50% of all profits from merchandise sales would be kept by the league.

There were also promises made to teams to cover travel expenses to games which did not come to be.

What Went Wrong

I asked one of the sources if they had an understanding of the AFL’s leadership’s logic as to why they would make empty promises to which they answered. “I think they ran out of money because they were counting on sponsorships that never came through. Because they’re terrible at their jobs. Then again they never paid for the naming rights so that would imply they have paid for anything.”

My anonymous source continued to explain that it was reported that the league was discussing partnerships with a large hotel and lodging company as well as a large discount store. The names of these companies are not going to be revealed in the article per the request of my source, but they are both Fortune 500 companies.

One source explained that their understanding is that AFL CEO Travelle Gaines never reached out to the discount store. Furthermore, that source alleges that their information is that Gaines blew up at the hotel and lodging company when told they could only do so much on price and said something to the effect of “No one wants to stay in your 2-star hotels anyway.”

No AFL Naming Rights (Allegedly)

More details concerning empty promises came out today on Friday as new information alleges that AFL Commissioner Lee Hutton and CEO Travelle Gaines signed a license agreement to use the AFL name and then never paid for it. Anthony Rossi who is a co-owner of PIKE LLC has a 90% interest in G6 put out a statement on Twitter regarding the broken agreement.

“They signed a license agreement and than never paid for it; which means they never had the rights. At this point Lee and Travelle are acting illegally & unethically while lying to fans, sponsors, partners, and team owners.” Anthony Rossi stated. “They continue to dodge questions and legal demands from the real Canadian owners.”

A Way Forward

One source outlined what they believe needs to happen moving forward for the AFL to recover. 

“Basically they need to remove Lee and Travelle by getting an exclusive rights deal with the company that owns the name. Appoint Fisher as Commissioner, and probably keep Mike McCoy as Deputy Commissioner. Bring in a new CEO with business sense.” My source stated.

“Go back to the sponsor Travelle didn’t get back to and get them involved. Keep working on bringing on a travel/hotel sponsor to help standardize living conditions, and reduce costs to individual teams. Remove teams that are league-owned and reduce costs. Set up a profit share model to help prop up smaller markets a bit then just get through this season.”

The league-owned teams include the Minnesota Myth, the Georgia Force, the Louisiana VooDoo, and the Philadelphia Soul. Additionally, my source communicated that they were informed that they recently found out the Minnesota Myth players are dealing with rough conditions including “Not the greatest housing, very little if any food provided.”

Billings Outlaws’ Owner Publicly Calls for Commissioner and CEO to Resign

Despite all the chaos early into the revival of the Arena Football League, many franchises remain committed with many teams releasing statements promising stability and commitment to the product.

Steven Titus, owner of the Billings Outlaws, spoke to the Billings Gazette and Friday morning expressing his commitment to his team playing out the season. He also spoke of his intention to call for the resignation of the AFL’s current leadership.

“The Billings Outlaws will be playing football in 2024. We just have to finalize who our playing partners are and figure out which leadership will lead the league into prosperity,” he said. “At today’s meeting, I will be calling for the immediate resignation of our league commissioner (Lee A. Hutton, III) and CEO (Travelle Gaines).”

“The Billings Outlaws are sustainable and we are not going anywhere,” Titus stated. “I know how much money I have in my checking account and we’ll be more than fine.”

Facility Concerns

While some teams are playing in arenas that look professional and have had great atmospheres in week 1, there are others that are simply not up to standard. The week 1 matchup of the Louisiana VooDoo and Philadelphia Sould was in a venue that did not pass the eye test. Additionally, the foam being unattached to the walls and frequently falling over was not only unprofessional looking but raises some possible safety concerns.

Iowa Rampage Folding

The Iowa Rampage was the first casualty of the AFL announcing they were folding Thursday night. They were a newly formed team coming off a 58-28 victory on the road to start the franchise off. Despite the success on the field, the team is now ceasing operations. In the Iowa Rampage’s press release, they cited failed financial promises from AFL leadership led by Commissioner Lee Hutton as the cause of the demise of the franchise.

“The AFL, led by Lee Hutton, made promises to us. They agreed to cover travel to games, they were going to give each team three sets of jerseys, our players would get camp gear and warmups, but most importantly, they were going to cover a significant portion of the player pay. After talking it over as a group, the owners decided this was a great option and we moved forward.” The Iowa Rampage press release stated.

“Fast forward to the start of camp. After many League Owner’s Calls, there started to be cracks in the promises made by leadership. First, the footballs (that each team paid $10,000 to the league for) are delayed. Then jerseys (supposedly from BSN Sports) are stuck in shipping and delayed. Camp gear has never been addressed and the NFL network has backed out due to “unforeseen production issues.” The commissioner, Lee Hutton, is unavailable for weekly calls so answers go unanswered. Prior to the first week of games, owners requested an emergency meeting to address issues with player pay and the Philadelphia Soul. Lee once again promises that players will be paid and says money will be delivered to teams by Friday. This never happened.”

Additionally, the press release pointed the finger at Commissioner Hutton for “destroying the revival of the AFL”.

“Lee Hutton and his team have destroyed not only the revival of the AFL, but they have destroyed the hopes of players all over the US, coaches who have dedicated time and energy through training camp, the staff of these teams who have worked tirelessly because they believe and communities that have put their faith and money into these teams. As owners, we do not take this decision lightly and we wished that this wouldn’t have come, but without the promised support of the league, we have no other option than to discontinue operations immediately.”

“Ticket holders will be reimbursed by the arena and we will be liquidating our assets to try to rectify any back payments owed.”

Following the folding of the Iowa Rampage the Southwest Kansas Storm released a statement assuring fans that the game on Saturday will still occur despite being scheduled against the Iowa Rampage.

“After today’s breaking news of The lowa Rampage ownership folding, a cooperative relationship between The Southwest Kansas Storm ownership group and the Arena Football League ownership are allowing this week’s game to be played as originally scheduled.” The Southwest Kansas Storm stated in their press release. “This agreement allows the current lowa Rampage roster to travel to Southwest Kansas for Saturday’s game. The Southwest Kansas Storm ownership group is committed to our players, coaching staff, support staff, and fans and stand steadfast in continuing to provide a great football experience for all involved, and have unwavering confidence in our ability to do so.”

The Iowa Rampage roster will be playing this Saturday and then subsequently disbanding.

Collapse of the Philadelphia Soul Ownership

A recent article by the Philadelphia Inquirer outlines problems surrounding the Philadelphia Soul which the league took ownership of in March when the previous ownership group backed out. The team’s head coach resigned days before the first game. The bus never arrived to pick the players up from the motel and take them to the airport. With motel bills left unpaid players were kicked out onto the street and their luggage was locked in a motel room until law enforcement intervened. Players were left unhoused and forced to find their own way back home.

The Philadelphia Soul was rostered in week 1 by the Dallas Falcolns of the AA2 who dawned the Soul’s jerseys for the game.


The series of promises unfulfilled has not only tarnished the AFL’s reputation but it has threatened its viability. The AFL must address these issues urgently to restore confidence among fans, players, and stakeholders.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

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