The Philadelphia Soul is no longer a thing of the past.
After what will be a two-year hiatus, the franchise will make a return to the Arena Football League next season. But it will do so without former high-profile owner, Jon Bon Jovi, who's focusing his attention on the Bon Jovi world-wide tour.
New owners Cosmo DeNicola and Pete Ciarrocchi will join Craig Spencer and former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, members of the original ownership group. Ciarrocchi is the owner of the sports bar Chickie's and Pete's. DeNicola is the former owner of the Wilkes Barre/Scranton AF2 franchise.
"We are bringing back to our incredible fans the most exciting, fan-friendly and affordable brand of football in America," Jaworski said in a statement Tuesday. "My partners and I are committed to putting together a championship team for this great city to be proud of."
The Soul won the ArenaBowl XXII championship in 2008. Shortly afterward, the league canceled its 2009 season because of financial difficulties. Teams were losing an average of $1.5 million a season due to a struggling economy. The new version of the AFL began in April with 15 teams.
League commissioner Jerry Kurz announced in February that there were serious negotiations to bring teams to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Denver and Southern California in 2011. The Soul's return became official Tuesday.
According to a source, the league will also announce the return of the Kansas City and San Jose franchises this weekend.
"We are thrilled to reward our fans with the return of a stronger, fiscally stable Philadelphia Soul franchise," Spencer said. "While we shared the frustration of every fan when the league shut down, we also believed it was essential for the sport's long-term success. Today's announcement is further testament to that belief and that the league is back and stronger than ever."
The 2011 regular season begins next April and will run through July, 2011 leading into the playoffs.
"The AFL is pleased to welcome the Philadelphia Soul back to the Arena Football family," Kurz said. "The passionate fans of Philadelphia and the surrounding area as well as the tremendous ownership group epitomize Arena Football and the league's continued commitment to the communities we serve."