Indoor Football League
The Indoor Football League (IFL) is a professional indoor American football league created in 2008 out of the merger between the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football. It has the largest number of currently active teams among indoor football leagues. The league has operated continuously under the same name and corporate structure longer than any other current indoor football league. IFL players earn a minimum of US$250 per game played (before taxes). The season is typically 14 games long, plus playoffs of two or more rounds.
The league was formed as a merger between the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football, announced the day before the 2008 National Indoor Bowl Championship, a game which pitted the champions of the two leagues against each other. The Sioux Falls Storm (United) defeated the Louisiana Swashbucklers (Intense) 54–42.
Of the 17 teams involved in the two previous leagues, 14 carried over to the new organization's 2009 season. An additional three teams came over from the CIFL and two expansion teams began their life in the new IFL. In the United Bowl, the Billings Outlaws (Intense Conference) took the league championship by defeating the RiverCity Rage (United Conference) by a score of 71–62.
After losing two teams to attrition after the end of the 2009 season, and a third in January 2010, the IFL then added another nine franchises to boost its membership to 25 for the 2010 season. Three of the new teams were expansion franchises. Two moved over from the Southern Indoor Football League and Continental Indoor Football League. After playing nine games of the 2010 season the Alaska Wild suspended operations, leaving only 24 teams to finish the year. In the United Bowl, the Billings Outlaws (Intense Conference) took the league championship by defeating the Sioux Falls Storm (United Conference) by a score of 43–34.
Seven new teams were added to the IFL for the 2011 season. Some of these were new expansion teams, and others moved to the IFL from the AIFA. The IFL also lost nine teams during the offseason, bringing the total number to 22 for 2011. In the United Bowl, the Sioux Falls Storm (United Conference) took the league championship by defeating the Tri-Cities Fever (Intense Conference) by a score of 37–10.
For the 2012 season, the IFL switched to a two-conference format with no divisions, due in large part to the loss of all the Texas-based teams (except the Allen Wranglers) to the newly formed Lone Star Football League. The Wranglers brought attention to the league for offering a $500,000 contract to unemployed wide receiver Terrell Owens to become the team's part-owner and wide receiver. Owens accepted the contract. ESPN3 carried Owens's debut game against the Wichita Wild, but his association with the team and the league proved to be short-lived. The front office of the league saw changes as well, as Commissioner Tommy Benizio resigned. The league appointed assistant commissioner Robert Loving as the interim Commissioner.
On October 12, 2012, the Bloomington Edge announced that the team had been sold to the owners of the Bloomington Blaze hockey franchise and would relocate to the new Champions Professional Indoor Football League for the 2013 season. On January 21, 2013, the league announced that the owner of the Cheyenne Warriors had died and that the team would not be entering the league this season as planned.
The league added the Minnesota-based Bemidji Axemen to expand to 10 teams but the Chicago Slaughter were sold and changed leagues, returning the IFL to nine teams for the 2014 season. In February 2014, the league announced that it would return to Montana in 2015 with the new Billings Wolves franchise.
On July 27, 2014, Iowa Barnstormers president Jeff Lamberti hinted at joining the league by telling a local TV station that the franchise will explore "all options" in the off-season of their continuance to play, including leaving the Arena Football League and going to the IFL for 2015. They joined the IFL in August 2014, becoming the fourth active AFL/af2 franchise to leave for the IFL since the Texas Revolution (formerly the Arkansas Twisters), the Tri-Cities Fever and the Green Bay Blizzard. (The Revolution left the IFL for Champions Indoor Football before ceasing operations in May 2019.)
This was the first season the IFL utilized roster restrictions which call for all teams to carry no more than seven players with three or more years' experience in Indoor/Arena football. For the second consecutive season, an AFL team was strongly rumored to join the IFL, as Spokane Shock owner Nader Naini said on August 10, 2015 that he was considering all options for the team. On September 1, the Shock officially joined the IFL, becoming the fifth active AFL/af2 franchise to leave for the IFL since the aforementioned Barnstormers, Fever, Blizzard and Revolution. The Shock, however, would have to enter the IFL under a new identity as the Arena League announced on October 12 that they would retain the rights to the Shock logos and name, possibly for future use by another franchise in the state of Washington. The team subsequently held a name-the-team contest, which resulted in their new identity as the Spokane Empire.
On September 9, the Minnesota Havok (based in Mankato) were announced as an IFL team. However, on January 29, just four weeks before the 2016 season was to kick off, the Havok were terminated by the league for failing to meet operational standards.
On November 25, the Minnesota Axemen folded due to the team "Not fulfilling their commitments to the league." Commissioner Mike Allshouse called the move a proactive one to prevent the team having to fold mid-season.
On June 30, 2016, the IFL announced that the Tri-Cities Fever franchise would be dormant, but in good standing with the IFL, for the 2017 season.
Project FANchise, a group aiming to create a professional sports team where fans help run the day-to-day operations, announced they would operate a new team, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles in Salt Lake City. A fan vote determined the team's name and logo, and select fans will have access to player personnel decisions and in-game play calling. Project FANchise also bought the Colorado Crush in October and began operating the team in the same manner.
During the 2016 season, the Billings Wolves' website was hacked, was never completely fixed, and was non-operational for months. Several former staff members claimed that the team had folded after the completion of the season. On October 24, 2016, the Wolves announced they had left the IFL because of state regulations and failing to find new ownership for the team.
On October 17, 2016, the IFL announced it had added the Arizona Rattlers, previously of the Arena Football League, for the 2017 season. The Rattlers were the third team in three consecutive seasons to leave the AFL for the IFL. The league rejected the bid of another former AFL franchise, the Jacksonville Sharks, who are located outside the IFL's regional territory. They subsequently announced their charter membership in an entirely new league, originally to have been called the Arena Development League but actually beginning play under the name National Arena League.
After the 2017 season came to a close, the website for the Colorado Crush was shut down with no formal announcement on the franchise's future. Project FANchise, which also ran the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, had announced they would start their own league and left the IFL, with both teams going up for sale. No buyers for either team were subsequently found and the teams folded. On July 12, 2017, the Spokane Empire announced that they would be suspending operations effective immediately.
On July 25, 2017, the IFL announced that only the Arizona Rattlers, Cedar Rapids Titans, Green Bay Blizzard, Iowa Barnstormers, and Nebraska Danger had committed to play for 2018. However, expansion clubs and current member clubs had until September 1 to commit to the 2018 season. On August 30, the Sioux Falls Storm announced that they had joined Champions Indoor Football for 2018 after winning six consecutive championships from 2011 to 2016. The Storm was shortly followed by the Wichita Falls Nighthawks.
The IFL then added the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen from the CIF on September 12. The CIF apparently then attempted to sue the IFL, Edge, and Ironmen for leaving the CIF after the two teams had already signed league affiliation agreements with the CIF for 2018. The IFL then threatened to sue the CIF, Storm, and Nighthawks in return despite neither former IFL team signing an affiliation agreement with the IFL for 2018. The CIF then retracted their lawsuit with the IFL but also removed the Storm and Nighthawks from their 2018 schedule. After the IFL meetings in October 2017, the Storm returned to the IFL but the Nighthawks had to suspend operations. While the CIF did drop the lawsuit against the IFL, it filed for an injunction against the Edge and Ironmen teams from participating in the IFL for breaking the terms of their signed affiliation agreements. A temporary injunction from participation in the league was granted on January 31, 2018, with the court ruling determining that both teams had been offered bribes from the owner of the Arizona Rattlers to break their contract with the CIF. The schedule was revised in February for the six participating teams stating the Edge and Ironmen were to return in 2019.
During the season, the Cedar Rapids Titans' ownership announced the team was for sale with hopes of selling to new local ownership. In June 2018, it was announced that the Titans had been sold to Roy Choi, a California-based businessman, with the intentions of keeping the team Cedar Rapids but would rebrand the team.
In August 2018, the IFL announced that the expansion Tucson Sugar Skulls, owned by Rattlers' coach Kevin Guy, were joining the league after being rumored to have joined the CIF. On September 7, the IFL announced that the Quad City Steamwheelers would join the league from the CIF. The Cedar Rapids team announced their rebrand as the Cedar Rapids River Kings on September 22. On October 5, the Bismarck Bucks of the CIF announced their move to the IFL. On November 19, the IFL announced another expansion team, the San Diego Strike Force, owned by the new Cedar Rapids owner Roy Choi to bring the league back up to ten teams. The addition of the Sugar Skulls and Strike Force gave the Rattlers geographic rivals, reducing that team's travel expenses in a league otherwise centered in the upper Midwest.
On August 20, 2019, the Duke City Gladiators joined the IFL after winning back-to-back CIF championships. On September 10, the Oakland Panthers, co-owned by former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, joined the IFL for the 2020 season. On November 1, the league added the Spokane Shock after it was resurrected by former NFL player Sam Adams, with the Spokane team reacquiring the Shock brand following the Empire's folding in 2017. The Bosselman family were looking to sell the Nebraska Danger, but no owner was found before the deadline for participating in the 2020 season. On November 24, 2019, the IFL added a thirteenth team in Frisco, Texas, owned by the Germain family called the Frisco Fighters. The Germain family also purchased the sponsorship rights for the IFL, the management rights of the league's communications and marketing department, as well as a second expansion for the 2021 season in Columbus, Ohio. Two games into the 2020 season, the league postponed the rest of the season due to the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.
Map of teams
Left for another league
- Abilene Ruff Riders – Left IFL after 2010 season, now defunct.
- Amarillo Venom – Left IFL after 2011 season, now a member of Champions Indoor Football.
- Bloomington Edge – Left IFL after 2012 season; rejoined the IFL for the 2018 season but was subsequently barred from playing in the IFL that season due to ligation over its departure from the CIF. Played an independent schedule in 2018 with the intent of rejoining the IFL in 2019, but were not included in the league schedule.
- Corpus Christi Hammerheads – Left IFL after 2010 season and later a member of Southern Indoor Football League, Lone Star Football League, Ultimate Indoor Football League, and American Indoor Football. Team is now defunct.
- Lehigh Valley Steelhawks – Left IFL after 2012 season and was later a member of the Professional Indoor Football League, American Indoor Football, and National Arena League. Team is now defunct.
- Louisiana Swashbucklers – Left IFL prior to inaugural season, now defunct.
- New Mexico Stars – Left IFL after 2012 season and later was a member of the Lone Star Football League and American Indoor Football. Team is now defunct.
- Omaha Beef – Left IFL after 2012 season, now a member of Champions Indoor Football.
- Saginaw Sting – Left for the Ultimate Indoor Football League after sitting out the 2010 season. Later played in the Ultimate Indoor Football League, Continental Indoor Football League, and American Indoor Football. Team is now defunct.
- Sioux City Bandits – Left IFL after 2010 season, now a member of Champions Indoor Football.
- Texas Revolution – Left IFL after 2014 season, now defunct.
- West Michigan Ironmen – Attempted to join the IFL for the 2018 season from the CIF but was barred from joining. The team was sold in 2018 and the new ownership was announced as rejoining the CIF for 2019, but were not included for 2019.
- West Texas Roughnecks – Left IFL after 2011 season for the Lone Star Football League, now defunct.
- Wichita Wild – Left IFL after the 2012 season, for the Champions Indoor Football League, now defunct.
- Alaska Wild – Team suspended operations nine games into the 2010 season. The coach and multiple players left to play elsewhere and the team no longer had money to continue the season.
- Arctic Predators – Originally announced as 2010 IFL member, but stalemate between ownership group and head coach led to lease difficulties; IFL franchise moved and became the Kent Predators. (A different team with the name Arctic Predators then became a member of the American Indoor Football Association.)
- Arizona Adrenaline – Ceased operations before the end of the 2011 season. Some games were played with a replacement team.
- Austin Turfcats – Was not in IFL for 2011 season.
- Billings Outlaws – Owner suspended the 2011 season and never returned.
- Billings Wolves – Owner could not find a buyer for the team after the 2016 season and did not return.
- Bricktown Brawlers – Ceased operations before the end of the 2011 season. Final games were played with a replacement team.
- Charlotte Speed – Originally intended to play during the 2013 IFL season but left for the PIFL instead.
- Chicago Slaughter – Left IFL after 2013 season to join Continental Indoor Football League, but never played in it.
- Colorado Crush – Website shut down at the conclusion of the 2017 season after their owners, Project FANchise, left the league to start their own league.
- El Paso Generals – Owners attempted to sell the team and after 2009 season and never returned.
- Everett Raptors – Team folded after 2012 season.
- Fairbanks Grizzlies – Owner suspended the 2012 season and never returned.
- La Crosse Spartans – Owners suspended the team and started the Cedar Rapids Titans. The team failed to find new ownership in 2011 and never returned.
- Maryland Maniacs – Owner suspended the 2011 season and never returned.
- Minnesota Axemen – Membership terminated in 2015 by the league due to franchise's failure to meet league obligations.
- Nebraska Danger – Joined in 2011; owner put the team up for sale at the end of the 2019 season and did not find a buyer before the 2020 season.
- Reading Express – Took 2013 season off and never returned.
- Richmond Revolution – Owner suspended the 2012 season and never returned.
- RiverCity Rage – Owner suspended them to focus on the Omaha Beef.
- Rochester Raiders – Owner suspended the 2011 season and never returned.
- Salt Lake Screaming Eagles – After Project FANchise left the IFL to start a new league, the Screaming Eagles were never able to secure new ownership.
- San Angelo Stampede Express – Owner suspended the 2011 season and never returned.
- Spokane Empire – Owner suspended operations after the 2017 season and eventually reacquired the Spokane Shock brand. The Shock returned to the league in 2020.
- Tri-Cities Fever – Team went dormant after the 2016 season with the franchise remaining in good standing with the IFL, but the current ownership has no plans for a return.
- Tucson Thunder Kats – Team joined the AIFA West before being officially accepted into the IFL but ended up suspending operations in November 2010 due to financial losses instead.
- West Michigan ThunderHawks – Owner suspended the 2011 season and never returned.
- Wenatchee Valley Venom – Owner suspended the 2012 season and never returned.
- Wichita Falls Nighthawks – Left for Champions Indoor Football after the 2017 season but folded due to league disputes.
- Wyoming Cavalry – Owner ceased operations in September 2014.
- Binghamton – Owner suspended the 2012 season and never returned.
- CenTex Barracudas – Originally announced as a 2009 IFL member but then was not included in 2009 alignment.
- Cheyenne Warriors – Owner died shortly before 2013 season began and team suspended IFL operations prior to first season They played a few games in the DIFL, and shutdown entirely in May 2013.
- Everett Destroyers – Originally announced as a 2009 IFL member but then was not included in 2009 alignment.
- Frisco Thunder – Originally announced as 2009 IFL member but then announced they would take season off while Dr Pepper Arena was being renovated and never returned.
- Minnesota Havok – Announced for 2016 season but were terminated by the league one month prior to the season for failure to reach minimum operational standards.
United Bowl Championship
The United Bowl is the IFL's championship game. It has been played every year since 2009. The current United Bowl Champions are the Sioux Falls Storm, who won the United Bowl championship in 2019. The Sioux Falls Storm won six straight United Bowls from 2011 to 2016.
The IFL continues to use the "United Bowl" name originally used by United Indoor Football. The UIF used this name before they merged with Intense Football League to form the Indoor Football League. The UIF held United Bowl I, II, III, and IV in 2005 through 2008, with all four being won by the Sioux Falls Storm. Although the name "National Indoor Bowl Championship" was used for the 2008 contest between the UIF and the Intense Football League, the "United Bowl" name continues to be used for the combined league's championship instead.
The IFL streams all games through YouTube. Some teams also have individual contracts with local or regional TV and radio channels.
Hall of Fame
The Indoor Football League Hall of Fame was established in 2014. The inaugural 2014 class of inductees included quarterback Terrance Bryant, radio sportscaster Rich Roste and former IFL Commissioner Tommy Benizio. The 2015 class included quarterback Chris Dixon, running back LaRon Council and defensive back/kick returner B.J. Hill. The 2016 class included linebacker Mark Blackburn, defensive back Lionell Singleton and Colorado Ice/Crush owner Tom Wigley. The 2017 class included wide receiver James Terry, head coach Robert Fuller and defensive lineman Cory Johnsen.