AFL: Utah Blaze not included in AFL's 2014 picture
The Arena Football League announced new division alignments for the 2014 season Tuesday.
The Utah Blaze were not included.
The turbulent state of the franchise, which temporarily was evicted from EnergySolutions Arena on June 20 for failure to meet its financial responsibilities with rental payments, was left out of the AFL picture in 2014, and possibly beyond. The AFL announced Tuesday that it will have a two-conference, four-division format with 14 franchises across the country.
The Blaze are not part of the picture.
A source familiar with the situation told The Tribune that the franchise is working through its options, though it will be dormant in 2014. The source added that different issues are being worked out to possibly bring back the Blaze in 2015.
"They're not dead," the source said. "This could be a rebuilding process, but that doesn't mean they're completely out."
Owner Kim Brown said in July that a fiscal infusion from a new investor helped the franchise pay its outstanding rental payments as it worked toward financial stability. Both the Blaze and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies announced that the previously agreed upon contract with EnergySolutions Arena would continue on schedule through the 2014 season.
The AFL announced Sept. 6 that the Blaze and Chicago Rush were two teams that did not submit proper documentation to commit to the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the league.
The Blaze did not submit commitment forms in time, leaving the franchise out of the AFL picture. The league released a statement Sept. 6 saying it expects the Blaze to return to the AFL in the near future.
Brown and AFL officials were not available for immediate comment Tuesday.
The Blaze owed a reported $120,000 in rent obligations to the Miller Group upon its eviction in June, but Brown told The Tribune then that the franchise was able to make payroll throughout the season, with assistance from the AFL.
Brown, in her first year as owner in 2012-13, jumped into the fold in Dec. 2012 and said the franchise was "hundreds of thousands" of dollars in debt, including vendors and advertising bills, among other things.
In a statement released to The Tribune on Sept. 6, Brown said: "Despite any rumors, the Utah Blaze are making substantial changes for a better 2014. As positive changes occur, we will keep you posted."
The Blaze finished 7-11 in 2013, in last place in the West division.