The San Jose Sabercats are 3 months removed from a world championship, and now they are no more.
Yesterday, the San Jose Sabercats announced that for “reasons unrelated to league operations” will no longer continue as an AFL franchise. The decision leaves the league with 8 teams for 2016. In a statement, the league said:
LAS VEGAS -– Arena Football League Commissioner Scott Butera announced today that, for reasons unrelated to League operations, the owners of the San Jose Sabercats have notified him that they will no longer continue as members of the AFL.
Butera said that the League is working to secure a new long-term owner for the storied franchise, which played its first Arena game in 1995. He also extended the AFL’s deep appreciation to the SaberCats ownership group for all the contributions they have made to Arena Football.
“We have a remarkably loyal fan base in the San Jose area and we are working aggressively to secure new ownership for the franchise as soon as possible,” Butera said. “In the process of rebuilding, there is an evolution that brings change and growth. In the coming months, we will reveal a strategic growth plan for the AFL, including completion of agreements with a number of expansion opportunities.”
Owners David and John Fry have yet to make a statement on the news, and neither has head coach/part owner Darren Arbet. The Sabercats were coming off a 20-1 season in which they won their 4th ArenaBowl in team history. They were shaping up to be the favorites to repeat as champions, but this news puts those plans in doubt. Keep in mind this news does not mean the Sabercats are dead, at least yet. With the Frys pulling out, Butera will need to find new ownership before the schedule is released. If the Sabercats are not saved, the 2016 AFL season(if there is one)will be played with 8 teams. The Sabercats pulling out of the AFL adds to what has been a hard offseason for the league. Just under 24 hours after the regular season ended, the Las Vegas Outlaws and New Orleans Voodoo ceased operations; with the Outlaws giving up their playoff spot to the Portland Thunder. A month later, the Spokane Shock announced they would leave the AFL for the IFL(Indoor Football League). On October 30th, just hours before the supposed announcement of an expansion team in San Antonio was to occur, the league issued a statement saying that there would only be 9 teams playing in 2016.