While a number of issues must be addressed, the 2009 Arena Football League season will not be canceled . . . for now.
The AFL, like the rest of the country, has fallen on difficult economic times. The New Orleans franchise already has folded, and others among the 16 remaining teams could follow.
A conference call with the league's board of directors was held last night. A two-thirds majority vote was needed to suspend play for the upcoming season. While the vote total was not revealed, the league decided to proceed with its 23rd season.
Soul coach Bret Munsey praised the decision.
"I have yet to hear anything from our ownership, but I am happy for the league and happy to possibly have the opportunity to defend our championship," he told the Associated Press.
"We all know there are some things that need to be corrected, and that's what they're working on. They're working on the economic model, and it needs to be corrected. Maybe this makes the league stronger. We're looking to be around for another 20 years."
Earlier yesterday, Los Angeles Avengers owner Casey Wasserman told the LA Times he expected the league to suspend operations, saying, "It's important for the Arena Football League to think about the next 20 years."
Soul wide receiver Chris Jackson told the AP that AFL players had agreed to take pay cuts and had been told Tuesday the season likely would be canceled. He said he still isn't convinced the AFL will play in '09.
"I'm still reluctant to get too happy," he said. "There's still a lot to plan out. We need to figure out how many teams are going to be in it, the finances of it all, and a working financial model for the future. There's still a lot to be done."
While the league's statement left open that 2009 could be canceled, Soul president Ron Jaworski told the Daily News before last night's conference call that the league was not contemplating folding. Jaworski, an ESPN NFL color analyst, did not participate in the call.
On Monday, the league again postponed the New Orleans dispersal draft and the start of free agency. Matt D'Orazio, the quarterback who led the Soul to last season's ArenaBowl championship, is among the prized free agents in limbo.
Then again, everybody is in limbo. *