A couple weeks ago, I attended a Q&A session between the Iowa Barnstormers’ fans and team owners John Petit and Jeff Lamberti. The ownership group wanted to discuss the possible move to another indoor football league.
There were concerns over how the AFL was being run and whether it was feasible for a market like Des Moines with millionaire, not billionaire owners.
Every year the AFL loses a couple franchises and every year the remaining teams have to cover the expenses of those teams. There was also concern for a team like Iowa whose closest opponent is Cleveland.
On August 27th, Lamberti and Pettit took all of these factors into consideration and decided to switch from the AFL to the Indoor Football League.
The IFL now has two teams in Iowa, a team in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Barnstormers are now in a more affordable team with about half the league within reasonable driving distance.
Cheaper travel costs, regional rivalries and a more stable league(less bankrupt) all drew in the Barnstormers. It’s a tough blow for the AFL, which already had lost San Antonio and nearly lost Orlando this season, loses one of the most famous AFL teams of all-time.
Both the AFL and the Barnstormers are at a crossroad. Can the AFL continue to grow as a league or was this move a sign of things to come? Will Barnstormers fans support the new league or will do be offended with the move to an inferior league? 2015 will be very telling for both sides.