A few days ago, the Arena Football League denied rumors that the 2009 season would be suspended due to the economic meltdown. A legitimate denial or just postponing the inevitable? Today, the league announced that the 2009 season will be canceled.
Matt Hennie recently blogged here about the NFL's recent announcement of layoffs and the WNBA's Houston Comets going under, but the recession is taking a toll on many sports. Major League Baseball's Internet operation, the NBA and NASCAR have all laid off workers recently, and the NHL is in a hiring freeze.
The AFL plans to restructure their business, hoping to improve the league's economic health, but I can't help but wonder if the league will ever return. For that matter, what will happen to the WNBA? The Comets were one of the league's original franchises and won the first four WNBA championships. If a team gets off to that great a start and still is out of business after 12 seasons, how can the rest of the league survive? How long before the NBA cuts off its subsidies due to the poor economy?
I'm also still wondering about ticket sales. I've written about the troubles the Philadelphia 76ers are having selling tickets. Well, they drew only 15,000-plus for a game last week against Cleveland and LeBron James. In the past the Sixers have sold out (or at least come close) when superstars such as LeBron and Kobe came to town, but they fell some 5,000 short of capacity this time. And today, tickets went on sale for their one-time-only return to the Spectrum, which will soon be torn down. The Flyers played a preseason game -- an exhibition -- and it sold out almost instantly. As of now, there are still seats available for the Sixers' regular season Spectrum finale. Ticket prices may have something to do with it. Except for seats at the very top level being sold for $19.67, a nod to the year the Spectrum opened -- and those cheap seats were sold out when I checked the website -- the lowest ticket price available is $75.00. It may well sell out, but I think the fact that it wasn't sold out when I checked earlier is telling.
Back to the Arena Football League for a moment. The conspiracy theorist in me can't help but wonder if their cancellation of the 2009 season was a plot conceived by anti-Philadelphia forces to keep the Philadelphia Soul from defending its championship.If baseball makes a similar announcement about its upcoming season, it'll confirm my suspicions!