Indoor American football is a variation of American football played at ice hockey-sized indoor arenas. While varying in details from league to league, the rules of indoor football are designed to allow for play in a smaller arena. It is a distinct discipline and not be confused with traditional American football played in large domed stadiums, as is done by some teams at the college and professional levels.
American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually consisting of six players each: one goaltender, and five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team.
The first documented indoor football games were those played at the Chicago Coliseum in the late 1890s. The first such game matched Michigan against Chicago on Thanksgiving Day 1896. The match was "the first collegiate game of football played under a roof."Adding to the novelty, as daylight turned to darkness, the field inside the Coliseum was lit with electric lighting. With seven acres of floor space, the sprawling Coliseum is believed to have not needed any compromises to accommodate an American football field. According to a newspaper account, the field grew dark in the second half, and play was halted for ten minutes to discuss whether play should continue. Play was resumed, and the lights were finally turned on after Michigan scored a touchdown. The press proclaimed the experiment in indoor football to be a success:
The Chicago Coliseums were three large indoor arenas in Chicago, Illinois, which stood successively from the 1860s to 1982; they served as venues for sports events, large (national-class) conventions and as exhibition halls. The first Coliseum stood at State and Washington streets in Chicago's downtown in the late 1860s. The second, at 63rd Street near Stony Island Avenue in the south side's Woodlawn community, hosted the 1896 Democratic National Convention. The third Chicago Coliseum was located at 15th Street and Wabash Avenue on the near south side; it hosted five consecutive Republican National Conventions, and the Progressive Party National Convention in 1912 and 1916. In the 1960s and early 1970s it served as a general admission venue for rock concerts, roller derbys and professional wrestling matches; it closed in 1971 and was sold for redevelopment in 1982, however portions of the building remained standing until the early 1990s.
The 1896 Michigan Wolverines football team was an American football team that represented the University of Michigan in the 1896 Western Conference football season. In its first and only season under head coach William Ward, the team compiled a 9–1 record, tied for second place in the Western Conference, and outscored opponents by a total of 262 to 11.
The 1896 Chicago Maroons football team was an American football team that represented the University of Chicago during the 1896 Western Conference football season. In their fifth season under head coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, the Maroons compiled a 15–2–1 record, finished in fourth place in the Western Conference with a 3–2 record against conference opponents, and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 368 to 82.
One thing at least was settled by the game, and that is, that indoor football is literally and figuratively speaking a howling success. The men had no trouble in catching punts, and football was played on its merits, without the handicaps of a wet field or a strong wind. Toward the end of the second half it got very dark, and the spectators were treated to a novelty in the shape of football by electric light."
Although both critically and commercially successful, the Coliseum was destroyed in a fire less than two years after its opening, and its replacement could not accommodate an American football field.
Later, at Madison Square Garden in 1902 and 1903, there were games known as the "World Series of Pro Football." The games were played on a 70-yard by 35-yard dirt field but otherwise adhered to outdoor rules. Poor attendance led to the tournament being discontinued after two years.
Madison Square Garden (1890–1926) was an indoor arena in New York City, the second by that name, and the second to be located at 26th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Opened in 1890 at the cost of about $500,000, it replaced the first Madison Square Garden, and hosted numerous events, including boxing matches, orchestral performances, light operas and romantic comedies, the annual French Ball, both the Barnum and the Ringling circuses, and the 1924 Democratic National Convention, which nominated John W. Davis after 103 ballots. The building closed in 1925, and was replaced by the third Madison Square Garden at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street, which was the first to be located away from Madison Square.
The Chicago Bears of the National Football League hosted an experimental game against their crosstown rivals, the Cardinals, after the 1930 NFL season, at the indoor Chicago Stadium.Two years later, poor weather conditions led to the Bears hosting the 1932 NFL Playoff Game against the Portsmouth Spartans (now the Detroit Lions) at the stadium. A dirt and tanbark field measuring 80 yards long (60 yards plus two ten-yard end zones) and 45 yards wide was constructed on the arena's floor. The Chicago Stadium games were notable for introducing several rule changes, including the introduction of hash marks to keep play away from spectators who were seated next to the field (much like modern indoor football), while goal posts were moved to the goal line. To compensate for the smaller field, teams were "penalized" 20 yards upon crossing midfield. (The Bears' official Web site goes further and claims that field goals were outlawed for the 1932 game.)
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. The Bears have won nine NFL Championships, including one Super Bowl, and hold the NFL record for the most enshrinees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the most retired jersey numbers. The Bears have also recorded more victories than any other NFL franchise.
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.
The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football franchise based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Cardinals compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) West division. The Cardinals were founded as the Morgan Athletic Club in 1898, and are the oldest continuously run professional football team in the United States. The Cardinals play their home games at State Farm Stadium, which opened in 2006 and is located in the northwestern suburb of Glendale.
In 1930, the Atlantic City Convention Center constructed a full-size indoor football field, and used it for one to three games a year during the 1930s; the stadium stopped hosting games in 1940 and did not resume hosting football games until 1961. In the 1960s the Boardwalk Bowl, a post-season game involving small college teams, was contested at the convention center. The Bowl was an attempt to make Atlantic City more of a year-round resort in the pre-gambling era as opposed to a single-season one (the Miss America Pageant, also held at the center, likewise began as an attempt to extend the season beyond Labor Day). The Atlantic Coast Football League played its inaugural championship game at the convention center in 1962, but the game only drew 2,000 fans and the game would thereafter move to the home stadium of the team with the best regular season record. The Philadelphia-based Liberty Bowl game, which had been played at Municipal Stadium from 1959–1963, was moved into the Convention Center in 1964 for the contest between Utah and West Virginia. The game drew just over 6,000 fans, though, and the Liberty Bowl moved to Memphis the next year, where it has remained.
Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, formerly known as the Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall, is an arena in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States. It was Atlantic City's primary convention center until the opening of the Atlantic City Convention Center in 1997. Boardwalk Hall was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1987. The venue seats 10,500 people for ice hockey, and at maximum capacity can accommodate 14,770 for concerts. Boardwalk Hall is the home of the Miss America Pageant.
The Boardwalk Bowl was a post-season college football game held at the former Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from 1961 to 1973.
The Atlantic Coast Football League (ACFL) was a minor football league that operated from 1962 to 1973. Until 1969, many of its franchises had working agreements with NFL and AFL teams to serve as farm clubs. The league paid a base salary of $100 per game and had 36 players on each active roster.
Unlike modern indoor football, the size of the playing surface and hence the rules were essentially the same as in the standard outdoor game, with rules updated to deal with contingencies for what could happen indoors, such as a punt striking the ceiling. The end zones were slightly shorter—eight yards instead of the standard ten.
While several attempts to create a true indoor football game have been made since shortly after American football was developed, the first version to meet with relatively widespread success and acceptance is Arena football, devised by Jim Foster, a former executive of the United States Football League and the National Football League. He devised his game while watching indoor soccer,[ citation needed ] another game derived from a sport played outdoors. He worked on the game in the early 1980s, but put any plans for full development of it on hold while the United States Football League, an attempt to play traditional American football in a non-traditional (spring-summer) season, was in operation in 1983–1985. When the USFL ceased operations, Foster saw his opportunity. He staged a "test" game in Rockford, Illinois in 1986 and put together a four-team league for a "demonstration season" in the spring of 1987, with games televised on ESPN.
Foster had to adopt a field that would fit within the smaller playing surfaces found in most arenas and thus created a field that was identical in size to a standard professional ice hockey rink, 200 by 85 feet (61 m × 26 m). This resulted in the field being 50 yards long (half of the length of a standard American football field) with eight-yard end zones (which may, if necessary, be curved in the end zones as hockey rinks are), and the field being slightly over half as wide as a standard football field. Although it was not as much of an issue then as it is now, Foster adopted short-pile artificial turfs such as AstroTurf for the field, because of its ability to be rolled up when the arena is being used for other sports.
Foster adopted a modified version of eight-man football. He also mandated a one-platoon system that required at least six players to play on both offensive and defensive downs. This had the added desirable effect of limiting team payrolls.
There were numerous other rules designed to help the offense and ensure high-scoring games:
To further an offensive passing advantage over the defense, Foster also imposed strict restrictions on the defensive formation, mandating that all defenses were required to play a 3-2-Monster formation with three defensive linemen, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, and one safety. Linebackers were not permitted to blitz and were required to stay in boxes behind the line of scrimmage, while defensive linemen where hindered by restrictions that prevented them from using certain techniques to penetrate the offensive line. Quarterbacks and placekickers were exempt from the one-platoon system, allowing two key scoring positions to be more specialized. The AFL also adopted the USFL's concept of playing in the late spring and summer, since this is when most hockey and basketball arenas have the fewest schedule conflicts (only competing with touring stadium rock concerts). The spring schedule has since been imitated by virtually all other professional indoor leagues as of 2010.
Within a year of the AFL kicking off, its first challenger, the World Indoor Football League formed. The WIFL planned to play a schedule with six teams beginning in summer of 1988 with its own set of indoor-inspired rules, including an unusual system that would have eight men on offense and seven men on defense. Despite having backing from former NFL players, veteran coaches, and singer John Mellencamp, the league canceled its 1988 season, folded half of its franchises (including Mellencamp's), and made an unsuccessful bid for the remaining three teams to join the AFL.
In 1990, Foster patented the rules of Arena football, meaning that only persons authorized by him could use his rules and his name for the sport. While the AFL asserted throughout the 1990s that the patent covered virtually every aspect of the game (from the 50-yard field to the eight-man format), a 1998 lawsuit (Arena Football League v. Professional Indoor Football League ) established that the patent specifically covered the rebound net feature, meaning that competitors and imitators who attempted to copy the game could not use this aspect of the rules.However, under provisions of U.S. patent law, Foster's patent expired on March 27, 2007, enabling imitators to use his rebound nets (at least as originally envisioned, without other innovations that he may have patented).
The AFL signed a major network television broadcasting contract with NBC, and eventually launched an official minor league, af2, beginning in 2000. This effort basically served two purposes: one as a developmental league for the AFL, and as a place where former collegiate players could develop while at the same time learning and becoming accustomed to the unique arena rules, and secondly as a pre-emptive way of shutting out potential new indoor football competitors (this was especially important as the 2007 expiration of Foster's patent on the rebound nets approached). At times over forty teams participated in this league, almost uniformly in cities which also had minor league ice hockey teams and hence suitable arenas.
Shortly before the end of 2008, the Arena Football League announced that it would not be playing a 2009 spring season. During the previous few years, the league administrators and team owners had allowed player salaries and other costs to rise to the point where the league and many of the teams were losing a substantial amount of money. Late in the summer of 2009, with the team owners unable to agree on a plan for making the league viable again the AFL announced that it was folding.
The developmental af2, however, played its 2009 season as scheduled. Most of the teams made a sustainable profit and the team owners were eager to see the league continue for another year. However, with the AFL owning 50.1% of the af2, it would fold if the AFL folded. At the end of the 2009 season, a gathering of af2 and remaining AFL team owners set out to form their own organization, originally known as Arena Football 1 (AF1). AF1 went on to purchase all assets of the original AFL and af2, except for a few team names and logos owned by outside parties, in a December 2009 bankruptcy auction. Shortly after the purchase, AF1 adopted the Arena Football League name, and the AFL relaunched in 2010. The "iron man" rule, requiring at least six of the eight players to play on both offense and defense, was dropped, but most other past AFL rules remained unchanged. The relaunched league saw franchises return and renewed interest, but by the end of the 2017 season, almost all of the league's teams had either folded or moved tonother leagues, with only the Philadelphia Soul having existed prior to 2016. Three expansion teams, all in the Mid-Atlantic United States, have been established in that time frame to keep the league operational.
Other indoor football leagues have been formed, without the use of the rebound nets at the ends of the field. Like the AFL, their playing seasons are entirely or primarily outside the traditional fall/early winter season of the outdoor sport so as not to be competing with it directly for fan support.
Since the first such league, the Professional Indoor Football League, began play in the 1998, there has often been a pattern of instability. Each off-season has seen teams jumping from league to league. In addition, leagues have annually merged, changed names, and separated. The organization that was most recently known as American Indoor Football (AIF) went through three names and two ownership changes in its first three seasons. Several other indoor leagues have been announced without ever actually commencing play, or operating only briefly with a handful of teams. Some were claimed attempts to form a second "major" league of indoor football while others were strictly efforts to form a new "minor" league.
A few leagues have achieved a certain level of stability, however. The Indoor Football League (IFL) began in the autumn of 2008 when two already-established leagues (the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football) chose to merge into a single organization. The IFL's expansion model has been based less on establishing new teams and more on acquiring existing teams from other leagues. The IFL has 10 teams as of 2019. Other, regional leagues include Champions Indoor Football (CIF), the American Arena League (AAL) and National Arena League (NAL). Both CIF and the AAL were formed by mergers of existing leagues. The CIF was formed from a merger of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League and the Lone Star Football League in 2015. The AAL was formed in late 2017 as the combination of three leagues that each played one season: the Can-Am Indoor Football League, Arena Pro Football, and Supreme Indoor Football.
The best-known indoor women's football league is the Legends Football League (formerly known as the Lingerie Football League). Known for its scantily-clad players and its signature event, the Legends Cup (formerly Lingerie Bowl), the LFL plays by a variant of indoor rules and played most of its games in indoor stadiums. The league's brief foray into Australia was played in outdoor stadiums; these teams nevertheless played under indoor football rules, and they and a few LFL-US teams that are either defunct or now play indoors are the only teams known to have played the indoor game outdoors. Otherwise, all other women's leagues play on outdoor fields with outdoor rules; there have been several other attempts to form indoor women's football leagues, but none have made it to play.
All current indoor football teams play at a minor league or semi-professional level. The average player's salary in the Arena Football League was US$1,800 per game in 2008; this is about one-quarter of the Canadian Football League and the XFL (adjusted for inflation) and half the salary the United Football League was paying at the end of its lifespan in 2012. Players in af2 were paid $250 per game and the AIFA and IFL had per-game salaries of $200 per game; the AFL paid $885 per game for most players in 2012, with that number rising to $940 per game in 2013 (although players then had to pay for their own housing, which the league previously provided); starting quarterbacks receive a $300 per game bonus.As of 2018, the IFL pays $250 per game, with a $25 bonus for each win.
Running back Fred Jackson rushed for over 1,000 yards as the starting running back for the 2009 Buffalo Bills, and his high quality play earned him a spot on USA Today's "All-Joe" Team. Jackson played the early part of his professional football career for the Sioux City Bandits now of Champions Indoor Football. Probably the most notable player to come out of Arena football into the National Football League is Kurt Warner, MVP quarterback of the Super Bowl XXXIV champion (2000 game, 1999 season) St. Louis Rams, who had previously quarterbacked the former Iowa Barnstormers of the AFL. The National Football League removed a ban that had been in place on any of its owners owning teams in any other sort of football operation with respect to Arena football only, and several of them had bought or started Arena teams at one point. However, the NFL allowed to lapse an option it had negotiated allowing it to purchase up to 49% of Arena football, and as of early 2007 seemed to have backed away from any plan it may have had to use Arena football as a developmental league in any sort of "official" sense, perhaps in the interest of not undermining its then-existing "official" developmental league, NFL Europa.
Several NFL owners owned Arena Football League teams in their own cities prior to the league's bankruptcy. At the end of the 2008 season, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Desperados (who had similar colors and logos to the Dallas Cowboys), Arthur Blank's Georgia Force, and the Colorado Crush (whose shareholders included Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and Rams then-minority owner Stan Kroenke) were still in the league. San Francisco 49ers owner Denise DeBartolo York and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had future expansion rights to their respective cities. Tom Benson's original New Orleans VooDoo and Bud Adams's Nashville Kats had already folded prior to the bankruptcy and none of the NFL owners with AFL franchises returned to the league after its reformation in 2010, and most favored abolishing the league entirely.
Two players who have played at least the majority of one season in an indoor football league have reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame: 2017 inductee Kurt Warner played the first three seasons of his professional career in the AFL, and 2018 inductee Terrell Owens played his last professional season with the Indoor Football League in 2012.
Dozens of former and current professional outdoor football players also have invested money into indoor football franchises.
The following is a list of professional arena and indoor football leagues:
The Arena Football League (AFL) is a professional indoor American football league in the United States. It was founded in 1987 by Jim Foster, making it the third longest-running professional football league in North America, after the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL). The AFL plays a proprietary code known as arena football, a form of indoor American football played on a 66-by-28 yard field, with rules encouraging offensive performance, resulting in a faster-paced and higher-scoring game. The sport was invented in the early 1980s and patented by Foster, a former executive of the United States Football League (USFL) and the NFL.
The AF2 was the Arena Football League's developmental league; it was founded in 1999 and played its first season in 2000. Like its parent AFL, the AF2 played using the same arena football rules and style of play. League seasons ran from April through July with the postseason and ArenaCup championship in August. The AF2 continued to operate while the AFL suspended operations for its 2009 season. The league was effectively disbanded in September 2009 when no team committed to playing in 2010, but several of the stronger franchises transferred into the reconstituted AFL.
Arena football is a variety of indoor gridiron football played by the Arena Football League (AFL), China Arena Football League (CAFL), Champions Indoor Football (CIF) and others. The game is played indoors on a smaller field than American or Canadian outdoor football, resulting in a faster and higher-scoring game. The sport was invented in 1981, and patented in 1987, by Jim Foster, a former executive of the National Football League and the United States Football League. The name is trademarked by Gridiron Enterprises and had a proprietary format until its patent expired in 2007. Due to the patent, other indoor American football leagues that launched following the popularity of the original AFL developed variants on the arena rules.
James "Jim" Foster is the founder and first commissioner of the Arena Football League (AFL). He is also a former National Football League (NFL) and United States Football League (USFL) executive and was later the principal owner of both the Iowa Barnstormers and the AF2's Quad City Steamwheelers.
The Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) was the second league to successfully play indoor football as a paid pro-league sport, after the Arena Football League (AFL). Since the AFL had a patent given in 1990 on the gameplay of "Arena Football", the PIFL played with mostly the same rules, but without the endzone nets. The PIFL only lasted one season (1998) under that name.
United Indoor Football (UIF) was a United States indoor football league that started in 2005. Ten owners from the National Indoor Football League, including one expansion and two from arenafootball2 (af2) took their franchises and formed their own league. The league was based in Omaha, Nebraska.
Eight-man football is a form of gridiron football, generally played by high schools with smaller enrollments. Eight-man football differs from the traditional 11-man game with the reduction of three players on each side of the ball and a field width that can be reduced to 40 yards, 13 1/3 yards narrower than the 53 1/3-yard 11-man field. Most states continue to play on a 100-yard length field, whereas a few states opt for 80-yard lengths. Reduced-player football, which consists of eight-man, six-man, and nine-man football has gained popularity across the United States. As of 2015, 1,561 schools in 30 states sponsor reduced-player football, with 1,161 of those teams participating in eight-man leagues, whereas 284 teams play six-man football and 116 teams play nine-man football.
The Amarillo Venom are a professional indoor football team in the Champions Indoor Football league. They play their home games at the Amarillo Civic Center. The Venom began play in 2004 as the Amarillo Dusters, a charter member of the Intense Football League, a small indoor football league based in Texas. They won the championship in their first and only season with the IFL.
The West Texas Roughnecks were a professional indoor football team based in Odessa, Texas that plays in the Lone Star Football League. The team's nickname was a tribute to the oil industry, which has been the source of Odessa's wealth over the past century.
The Iowa Barnstormers are a professional indoor football team based in Des Moines, Iowa. They are currently members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena, known in indoor football circles as "The Well".
The Spokane Shock were a professional arena football team based in Spokane, Washington, playing their home games at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The team was part of the National Conference Pacific Division of the Arena Football League. The franchise folded in October 2015. A reorganized ownership group applied for a franchise in the Indoor Football League, known as the Spokane Empire, as the rights to the Shock name belonged to the AFL.
The Kansas City Command were a professional arena football team that played in the Arena Football League (AFL). The team was founded before the 2006 season. Former Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Kevin Porter served as head coach. The team's new head coach in 2011 was Danton Barto, he also coached the AFL's Las Vegas Gladiators, af2's Memphis Xplorers and Manchester Wolves, and the IFL's Arkansas Diamonds.
The Peoria Pirates were a professional arena football team that last played in AF2, the minor league to the Arena Football League (AFL). They played their home games at Carver Arena, part of the Peoria Civic Center in Illinois, and were coached by Mike Hohensee and Bruce Cowdrey. The Pirates originally began play as a charter member of the original Indoor Football League in 1999.
John Charles Fourcade, Jr. is a former professional American football quarterback in the National Football League for the New Orleans Saints and recent head coach of the New Mexico Stars of American Indoor Football. Fourcade was the most valuable player of the 1982 Senior Bowl after passing for 115 yards and running for 33 yards and two touchdowns. He had gained 6,713 yards at Ole Miss from 1978–1981, breaking the career record of Archie Manning.
The Wichita Wild were a professional indoor football team based in Wichita, Kansas. They were members of the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL). The team was founded in 2006 as an independent indoor football franchise. In 2008, the team joined United Indoor Football (UIF). They joined the Indoor Football League (IFL) during the UIF and Intense Football League merger of 2009. In 2012, the team left the IFL to become charter members of the CPIFL. The Wild's home games were played at Hartman Arena in nearby Park City. When they lost their lease with the Hartman Arena, they folded..
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. The league is the second highest tier in indoor/arena football behind the Arena Football League (AFL), and has operated continuously under the same name and corporate structure longer than any other current indoor football league, considering that the AFL's 2009 season was cancelled and the original league filed for bankruptcy that year. IFL players earn a minimum of US$200 per game played. The season is typically about 14 games long, plus playoffs of two or more rounds.
In the United States and Canada, the term professional football includes the professional forms of American and Canadian gridiron football. In common usage, it refers to former and existing major football leagues in either country. Currently, there are multiple professional football leagues in North America: the three best known are the National Football League (NFL) and the Arena Football League (AFL) in the U.S. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada. The NFL has existed continuously since being so named in 1922.
The Florida Tarpons were a professional indoor football team based in Lakeland, Florida, out of the RP Funding Center. Originally established in Estero, Florida, and playing out of Germain Arena, they began play in 2012 as an expansion team of the Ultimate Indoor Football League (UIFL). The Tarpons joined the X-League Indoor Football (X-League) during the 2015 season when the UIFL merged with the X-League. They played in the Arena Pro Football (APF) league in 2017 before the league became the American Arena League (AAL) for 2018. For 2019, there was an ownership transition that formed their own Florida-based league, called the A-League, and the team rebranded as the Lakeland Tarpons. The team was removed from the A-League schedule at the start of the 2019 season.
The Spokane Empire were a professional indoor football team based in Spokane, Washington. They were members of the Indoor Football League and played in its 2016 and 2017 seasons. Based in Spokane, Washington and owned by Spokane businessman Nader Naini, the Empire played their home games at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. They replaced the Arena football team the Spokane Shock, after the Arena Football League asserted its ownership of the "Shock" team name and refused to permit it to be moved to the Indoor Football League along with the team itself.
The West Michigan Ironmen are a professional indoor football team based in Muskegon, Michigan, the Ironmen play their home games at L.C. Walker Arena. The team joined American Indoor Football (AIF) in 2016. The AIF ceased operations following the 2016 season, leaving the Ironmen without a league. They joined Champions Indoor Football for the 2017 season. For the 2018 season, the team was originally announced to have joined the Indoor Football League, however, the team was forced to sit out the 2018 Indoor Football League season. The team was then sold and played in the regional Midwest Professional Indoor Football for the 2018 season until they could rejoin the CIF in 2019. However, they were not among the list of members for the 2019 CIF season and instead joined the American Arena League.