Thunder to become part of new indoor football league
The Utah Valley Thunder of Orem are pulling up stakes and moving north to become part of a revamped indoor football league called Arena Football 1.
"It kind of fell into our laps," said Thunder owner Dave Affleck. "They want us to be in the AF1 because they feel Salt Lake City is a major league market."
A press conference is scheduled Monday in Tulsa, Okla., to announce the formation of a two-tiered league, the AF1 and af2. The league will comprise former Arena Football League teams and successful af2 teams.
The original af2 was part of the Arena Football League, which went dark following the 2008 season.
John Garff, owner of the Utah Blaze, said the Blaze will not be part of the new league. Garff expects the AFL to return in 2011.
"We took some pretty big steps the last seven days," Garff said. "I can't elaborate, but we're a couple weeks away from making an announcement. I wish the new group good luck."
The Thunder spent one season in the American Indoor Football Association, a league below the af2 in pecking order. Utah Valley will be the third team to leave the league this year.
Affleck, CEO of Vucci Technology Solutions in Orem, will most likely move the team to the E Center in West Valley City.
The Thunder had already planned to explore moving to the af2 -- which has 25 teams -- in Spokane, Wash., Boise, Idaho, or Stockton, Calif.
"We were contacted by the af2 before the bankruptcy of the AFL," said Affleck, who plans to be in Tulsa on Monday. "The af2 has more teams on the West Coast, which will help us financially.
"We've already had a lot of good reaction from potential sponsors."
Affleck also has his eyes on playing in EnergySolutions Arena, but the Garffs own the right of first refusal to use the arena.
There were 17 teams remaining in the AFL when the league went dark following the 2008 season. Franchises in New Orleans and Los Angeles have already folded.
Garff has maintained that once a new financial strategy is in place, the AFL will return.