The IFL and the Case for More Westward Expansion

Over the past few seasons we’ve seen the Indoor Football League (IFL) expand westward with the addition of the Arizona Rattlers, Tucson Sugar Skulls, and San Diego Strike Force. This year it was announced the IFL would be heading to Oakland, California in 2020 headed by California native Roy Choi who also owns two other IFL franchises, the Cedar Rapids River Kings and San Diego Strike Force. The IFL expanding westward is also key because it’s a race against the Arena Football League (AFL) for territory and markets. The AFL has found stable footing again and has already started talking about heading west again in the future.

There are many great markets on the west coast that have hosted teams before and could potentially do so again. Looking at where the IFL is right now and addition of Oakland next season let’s talk about markets that have hosted a team before and why it’d make sense to return to that market under the right owner. Markets we’ll look at are Salt Lake City, Boise, and Stockton.

Salt Lake City, Utah has a rich history of arena football with the Utah Blaze of the AFL and most recently the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles of the IFL. The Utah Blaze existed from 2006-2013 and the Screaming Eagles lasted for just one season in 2017. A potential Salt Lake City franchise would have two main options for venues, either Vivint Smart Home Arena where the Blaze used to play for most of their existence. The other venue being the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah just about twenty minutes from SLC. The Blaze brought in a large amount of fans each game. The Screaming Eagles brought in a good amount of fans for an IFL franchise in their lone year of existence.

Boise, Idaho would be a prime market for the IFL. The FanChise team that turned out to be the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles could’ve been in Boise when fans were choosing the city of a potential team for the FanChise group where fans called almost all the shots. Right now the Idaho Horsemen are the only team in the Boise area. The Horsemen play at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa about twenty minutes from Boise and compete in the four team American West Football Conference (AWFC). The IFL being one of the bigger leagues out there would almost certainly cause the demise of the AWFC either by the Horsemen joining the IFL causing the other three teams to close up shop or the Horsemen and AWFC not being able to compete with the IFL. The Ford Idaho Center previously hosted the Idaho Stallions of the now defunct Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL) in 1999. A potential Boise IFL franchise could play in CenturyLink Arena which hosted the Boise Burn of the now defunct Arena Football 2 (AF2). The Burn played three seasons from 2007-2009 when the AF2 ceased operations. A benefit for a Boise franchise would be not having much competition aside from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads and the Boise Hawks baseball team of the Single-A Short Season Northwest League. They’d only have to share the building with the Big Sky Conference basketball tournament and the Steelheads. For most of the spring they’d be the main tenant in the building since the ECHL season ends in April and IFL starts in February.

The other prime market we’ll examine which would be a great rival for the incoming Oakland franchise is Stockton, California. Stockton Arena has hosted teams before with the Stockton Lightning of AF2 from 2006-2009 when AF2 shut down operations. The venue also hosted the California Eagles of the now defunct American Indoor Football (AIF) and the independent Stockton Wolves. The now defunct AFL franchise, the San Jose SaberCats played ArenaBowl 28 in Stockton Arena where they defeated the Jacksonville Sharks by a score of 68-47. A potential Stockton franchise would have to compete with the Stockton Rush of the MASL 2 or M2 for short for a portion of their season as well as the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League (AHL) and the Stockton Kings of the NBA G-League. Even with three other minor league franchises calling the venue home there should be no issue with fan support as fans in that area have the shown the ability to turn out for their team in the past. Some Oakland fans could make the trip to support their team when the two rivals go head to head as it’s about an hour drive between the two cities.

17 Comments

  1. After reading this article I looked up stuff about if l expansion. I found a ton of articles from a year or two ago about how the ifl was gonna get absorbed by the cif since they only had (at the time) five teams committed and the cif having 15. Now the ifl has 10 teams and the cif has 7. I thought this was kind of ironic that the cif went from being the big league to the dying league, and vise versa. I was wondering if you think that the ifl will now absorb the cif, or at least steal some more of there teams.

  2. I also have a couple other questions. First, do you think the ifl could also absorb the whole entire AWFC? Second, where did you find the official announcement that the ifl is expanding to Oakland? All i can find is an article saying that the expansion is very likely. Thanks in advance and sorry about the lengthy comments.

    • The AWFC has a different business model and a bit of a lower quality product. I could se a buy out down the line thoygh.

      • That announcement isn’t official. It says Choi plans to bring a team to Oakland. It doesn’t say that it’s for sure. I tried updating the ifl Wikipedia page to show the Oakland expansion, and 20 minutes later it got changed back. When I went to find out why, it said that the expansion wasn’t official and it’s possible Choi could just relocate one of the current teams he owns. Can you find an article on goifl.com that says the Oakland expansion is official? If not, it’s still not official.

      • That announcement isn’t official. It says Choi plans to bring a team to Oakland. It doesn’t say that it’s for sure. I tried updating the ifl Wikipedia page to show the Oakland expansion, and 20 minutes later it got changed back. When I went to find out why, it said that the expansion wasn’t official and it’s possible Choi could just relocate one of the current teams he owns. Can you find an article on goifl.com that says the Oakland expansion is official? If not, it’s still not official.

        • A team will be in Oakland no matter what and right now it appears expansion. The fact is that it’s official Oakland will get a team.

          • Wait,how do you know that and how come every time I try to edit the Wikipedia article, it keeps getting changed back? There is no official announcement that there will be a team, just that there are plans start a team there.

          • I know others have had issues trying to edit Wikipedia as well. Oakland is all but official, takes time because of everything that goes into preparing for another season.

          • No clue why there’s a star next to your name. Maybe because you comment a lot or something.

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