--- Arena Football League Set to Kickoff 27th Season
The Arena Football League will officially kick off its 27th season this week with a seven-game Week 1 lineup.
CBS Sports Network will continue as the League’s primary television partner, while the AFL also announced the addition of ESPN to their national broadcast schedule in December. This multi-year deal places ArenaBowl XXVII on ESPN and more than 85 games on multiple ESPN Networks.
“CBS Sports Network has provided as high a production value as our broadcasts have ever experienced,” AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz said. “Our fans have been overjoyed by the look and volume of games. Now we are able to once again combine the fastest game on turf with one of the most prominent television brands in ESPN. The overall excitement for this coming broadcast season could not be higher.”
Each of the Conference Championship games will now air on national television as well, with one on CBS Sports Network and the other on ESPN2. The combination of CBS Sports Network and the ESPN family of networks will put the AFL in position to air more national games on more platforms than ever before.
The 2014 AFL season will also be the first for two new markets – Los Angeles and Portland.
At ArenaBowl XXVI Media Day last August, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley announced their intentions to bring pro football back to Los Angeles with an expansion AFL franchise dubbed the ‘LA KISS’, named for Simmons’ and Stanley’s legendary rock band.
“As a fast-paced, high-action band, this partnership with the AFL was an obvious fit for us,” said Simmons. “With Arena Football, you are much closer to the action – sitting in the front row is like putting a folding chair on the hash mark of an NFL game – and it’s one of the only sports where you can experience this level of intensity. Attending an LA KISS game in 2014 will be similar to a live KISS show, with thrilling, heart pounding action.”
The League will also return to Portland in 2014, with the addition of the Portland Thunder franchise.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to bring professional football not only to the Portland community, but to the entire state of Oregon,” Thunder owner Terry Emmert said. “Sports fans in this state are used to seeing a high-energy, fast-paced brand of football. The Arena Football League delivers that kind of excitement in a unique and affordable family setting.”
Week 1 action will begin on Friday, March 14 with the Tampa Bay Storm hosting the New Orleans VooDoo live on ESPN3. Four more games will be streamed on ESPN3 the following day, as the Cleveland Gladiators take on the Pittsburgh Power, the LA KISS debut against the San Antonio Talons, the Iowa Barnstormers challenge the Spokane Shock and the Arizona Rattlers host the Philadelphia Soul in a rematch of the last two ArenaBowls. The Orlando Predators will host the division rival Jacksonville Sharks in an ESPN3 game on Sunday, March 16, while the week concludes with a St. Patrick’s Day showdown on CBS Sports Network as the Portland Thunder host the San Jose Sabercats at 10:00 p.m. EST on Monday, March 17.