First the Rams, then the Raiders. And now — the Avengers.
The Los Angeles Avengers, the lone “professional” football franchise remaining in the Southland, ceased operations on Sunday, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times, which was picked up by ESPN.com.
The Avengers had played in the Arena Football League, which will not compete this season after league owners voted to suspend operations because of economic restraints.
“It’s disappointing, because I don’t think it was necessary to get to this point,” team owner Casey Wasserman told the Times.
To what point? To the point where a minor league sports franchises are going belly-up because of the current economic climate? Well it’s happening all over. The Fresno Falcons and Phoenix RoadRunners of hockey’s minor league ECHL ceased operations during this season, as have the Atlantic City Surf and Ottawa Voyaguers of minor league baseball’s independant Can-Am League, which announced just a couple of weeks ago that neither would continue to operate.
At least the Avengers ownership had the presence of mind to end things at an appropriate time.
The Avengers are actually the second AFL franchise to fold, joining the New Orleans VooDoo, since the league voted to halt operations. The league has still not stated when it will resume operations and schedule games, but remains “hopeful” that the remaining 15 teams will play again in 2010.
“The fans in L.A. have been passionate and supportive of professional football, and I hope one day we can all share in the excitement of its return to Los Angeles,” Wasserman said, according to the Times.
There seems to be a lot of “hoping” going on. The league hopes to play games; Wasserman hopes football will return to Los Angeles. I hope both are right, although far much more so the former than the latter.
This is a sad turn of events. The Avengers were one of the AFL’s flagship teams and had a proud tradition, including an ArenaBowl championship earlier this decade. And the Arena League is just plain cool. It’s a sleek modern twist on a calous timeless tradition. Now the closest Arena League team team to SoCal, geographical, is the San Jose SaberCats. What the heck is a SaberCat anyway? What’s an Avenger, for that matter? My guess is an out-of-work semi-pro football player.