Stallions make it official: The AAF is shutting down

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake's Branden Oliver (33) comes up short of the end zone as the Salt Lake Stallions host the Arizona Hotshots on Feb. 23.

The Salt Lake Stallions made it official on Wednesday afternoon. The Alliance of American Football franchise and the rest of the league is shutting down.

“On behalf of the Salt Lake Stallions organization, it came with great disappointment and surprise to learn that the Alliance of American Football has decided to cease operations,” Stallions president Tyler Howell said in a statement.

“We are truly grateful for everyone who supported the Stallions, and especially the 50+ talented players and coaches that gave everything they had to produce eight weeks of very good, highly entertaining football,” Howell added.

The AAF suspended operations on Tuesday after majority investor Tom Dundon, owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, declined to fund the league any further after the NFL Players Association rejected his proposal to allow NFL players to participate in the AAF.

The Stallions are especially disappointed, Howell said, because he believed the AAF concept was working — at least on the field. He said the league introduced changes that made the game safer, it put an entertaining product on the field and it provided a developmental league for players, coaches and officials, not to mention technological innovations “that could change the way we view sports,” Howell said, in what amounted to a goodbye letter to supporters.

Howell said next step for the now-defunct franchise will be to provide refunds for ticket buyers. The Stallions, who were scheduled to play at Atlanta on Sunday before the AAF suspended operations, had one game left at Rice-Eccles Stadium, against San Antonio on April 12.

“We hope to be able to share information from the league on how to provide refunds for those who have purchased tickets to the April game and will pass that on once we obtain it,” Howell said.

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