Tampa Bay Storm

Last updated
Tampa Bay Storm
Established 1987
Folded 2017
Played in Amalie Arena
in Tampa, Florida
TampaBayStorm.com
Tampa Bay Storm logo TampaBayStorm.PNG
Tampa Bay Storm logo
League/conference affiliations
Arena Football League (19872017)
  • National Conference (1993–2008)
  • American Conference (2010–2016)
    • South (1991, 1995–2008, 2010–2015)
Team colorsBlue, gold, white
   
MascotStorm Dawg
Personnel
Owner(s) Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment
Chairman Jeffrey Vinik [1]
President Derrick Brooks
Head coach Ron James
Team history
  • Pittsburgh Gladiators (1987–1990)
  • Tampa Bay Storm (1991–2017)
Championships
League championships (5)
1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2003
Conference championships (1)
2010
Prior to 2005, the AFL did not have conference championship games
Division championships (5)
Playoff appearances (24)
1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017
Home arena(s)

The Tampa Bay Storm were a professional arena football team based in Tampa, Florida, U.S. that played in the Arena Football League (AFL). The team, along with the Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite and Washington Commandos, joined the AFL in 1987 as one of the charter franchises, and by 1992 it was the last of the four still operating. The team ceased operations in December 2017.

Contents

The franchise was originally located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and known as the Pittsburgh Gladiators. The franchise relocated to Tampa Bay in 1991, changing its name in the process. The team played in St. Petersburg from 1991 to 1996, then in Tampa until 2008, after which point the AFL suspended operations and did not return until the 2010 season following the league's restructuring. It had been in the same city for longer than any other AFL team. During its tenure the franchise won five ArenaBowl championships. With 241 wins, the Storm had won far more games than any other team in AFL history. After the team dissolved in 2017, indoor football in the Tampa Bay area was succeeded by the Tampa Bay Tornadoes who began to play in 2021 in the American Arena League.

The club was last owned by Jeffrey Vinik, also the owner of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning. Home games were played at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

History

The Storm holds the Arena Football League record for the longest tenure by a franchise in a single market area. It was also the last of the original four franchises (the Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite and Washington Commandos were the other three) to have operated in continuous existence from the formation of the league in 1987 until the present decade before ceasing operations.

Pittsburgh Gladiators (1987–1990)

When arena football was first announced in 1986, Jim Foster targeted Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for an inaugural franchise due to the great football tradition of the area. [2] The franchise was originally known as the Pittsburgh Gladiators, and was one of the original four AFL teams formed in 1987. The team was named by Robert Ninehouser whose entry for the team name was selected in 1987. They originally played their home games at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. On June 19, 1987, the Gladiators defeated the Washington Commandos 48–46 in the first ever AFL regular season game. [3] The Gladiators participated in ArenaBowls I [4] and III, [5] losing both. [6]

Moving to St. Petersburg (1991–1994)

The team moved from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1991, with the team taking on the "Storm" nickname. A Cleveland Arena Football League franchise later bore the Gladiators name; however, other than the coincidental names the two organizations shared no link in histories.

The Storm won the ArenaBowl in its first season in Tampa Bay (V) and has won four subsequent championships (VII, [7] IX, X, and XVII). Up to the 2006 season, the Storm had qualified for the playoffs in every season but one during their time in Tampa Bay.

T.B. Storm Logo (1991-1996) TBStorm2.gif
T.B. Storm Logo (1991–1996)

The team played in the former ThunderDome [8] [9] in St. Petersburg (now called Tropicana Field) from 1991–1996, becoming its first regular team sports tenant. [10] Since 1997, the team played its home games in the Amalie Arena (previously the Ice Palace, St. Pete Times Forum, and Tampa Bay Times Forum) which is located in Tampa.

Tim Marcum era (1995–2010)

After the 1994 season, Greis sold the team to Peter "Woody" Kern [11] for $850,000. [12] Kern's first move as the Storm owner was the hiring of coach Tim Marcum, [11] who is widely regarded as the greatest coach in Arena Football history.

On March 14, 2002, Kern had the opportunity to sell the Storm, receiving an offer from Michigan mortgage broker Thom Hopper for what was then a record price of $12 million. Hopper submitted two payments totaling $1.6 million before Kern regained possession of the team. Later in 2006, Hopper pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges that authorities say resulted from his attempt to buy the Storm. He was sentenced in January to nearly three years in prison and ordered to pay at least $1.8 million in restitution to a title insurance company, according to media reports.

On December 23, 2004, Sports Illustrated [13] wrote in its 'The 10 Spot' feature that the AFL's players' union filed a grievance against the Storm. The reason was that seven of the Storm's players claimed that some of the diamonds in their 2003 AFL championship rings were fake. Six of the seven players had left the team after the 2003 season. The Storm acknowledged that some of the rings did, in fact, include cubic zirconia instead of diamonds, and that different players received greater amounts of diamonds in their rings based on their contributions that season.

The Storm ended the 2006 season with a 7–9 record (4th in their Division), ending a 19-year streak of playoff appearances, dating back to their days as the Gladiators and the start of the Arena Football League.

In December 2007, Kern sold 51% of his stake in the Storm to Robert Nucci for just over $9.6 million, while still maintaining control of the other 49%. [12] The Storm followed a 9–7 season and first-round playoff exit in 2007 with an 8–8 finish in 2008. The team salvaged the .500 record by defeating the Los Angeles Avengers 72–47 in Tampa. There was no 2009 Arena Football League season due to the league's ongoing financial difficulties, which resulted in its filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, later converted to Chapter 11, leaving it uncertain if the Storm, arguably the most successful team in the history of any form of indoor football, would ever play another game.

New AFL (2010–2017)

T.B. Storm Logo (1997-2011) Tampastorm.png
T.B. Storm Logo (1997–2011)

A new arena football league, originally called Arena Football 1, formed in 2009. The Storm was not one of the initial 16 teams announced. However, Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings owner Dan Newman mentioned that the Storm were one of at least two former AFL franchises that were being negotiated with, the other being the San Jose SaberCats. [14] The new organization bought the rights to the intellectual property, including the team names, logos, histories, and patented rules of the old AFL in a bankruptcy auction, which allowed it to function essentially as a full successor; after this action, the name Arena Football 1 was dropped and the group resumed operating as the Arena Football League. The Storm resumed full operations for the new league's 2010 season, with some players from the former roster, and once again coached by Tim Marcum and this time owned by Tampa Bay Storm Partners LLC, a group led by Todd Boren, a previous partner with the Orlando Predators and the Arizona Rattlers. The AFL released the schedule for the season on December 31, 2009. The Storm returned during the opening weekend of the season on April 3, 2010. [15] On February 17, 2010, it was formally announced that the AF1 had adopted the former Arena Football League name.

The Storm playing against the Iowa Barnstormers during the 2013 season. Tampa Bay at Iowa 6.1.13.JPG
The Storm playing against the Iowa Barnstormers during the 2013 season.

In the 2010 season the Storm went 11–5, finishing second in the South Division. In the playoffs, they earned a trip to ArenaBowl XXIII, but lost to the Spokane Shock 57–69.

On February 17, 2011, Marcum would resign as head coach of the Storm less than a month before the 2011 season was to begin, after having the position for 15 years. He left as the AFL's all-time winningest head coach with 211 wins. Dave Ewart was named as the team's new head coach the next day. [16] [17] His resignation was sparked by an admission in a deposition related to a lawsuit he had filed against the Storm's previous owner, Robert Nucci. In that deposition, Marcum admitted to forwarding emails that were pornographic and racially tinged to other members of the Storm organization, using his work email address. [18] In April 2011, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks became a part owner and the team president for the Storm. [19] After a 7–4 start to the 2013 season, the Storm lost the final seven games of the season, but still qualified for the postseason. [20] The Storm played well in their playoff game, but came up just short against the Jacksonville Sharks. [20] The team's collapse lead to the firing of Ewart. [20] One month later, the team announced they had promoted offensive coordinator, and Storm legend Lawrence Samuels to the team's head coach. [21] Samuels and the Storm mutually agreed to part ways in August 2016. [22] On October 25, 2016, Ron James was named the head coach. [23] In 2017, the Storm finished the regular season with a 10–4 record and later advanced to ArenaBowl XXX, where they lost to the Philadelphia Soul by a score of 44–40. [24] [25]

In December 2017, the Storm announced it was ceasing operations due to increasing operating costs combined with decreasing team revenue. Ownership did not rule out future participation in a "stronger, reinvented AFL." [26] The Storm was the last of the original four AFL teams to cease operations.

Storm highlights

Players

The Storm in 2017 Kay directing the Storm defense.jpg
The Storm in 2017

Final roster

Tampa Bay Storm roster
Quarterbacks

Fullbacks

  • Currently vacant

Wide receivers

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Kickers

Injured reserve

Inactive reserve

  • Currently vacant

League suspension

Other league exempt

  • Currently vacant

Inactive reserve

  • Currently vacant

Refuse to report

Recallable reassignment

Rookies in itlatics
Roster updated August 14, 2017
24 Active, 21 Inactive

Retired numbers

Tampa Bay Storm retired numbers
PlayerPositionSeasonsRef.
7 Jay Gruden QB 1991–1996 [28]
20 Stevie Thomas WR/LB 1991–1999 [29]
22 Lawrence Samuels WR/LB 1995–2000, 2002–2010 [30]
24 Tracey Perkins DS 1991–1999 [31]
25 George LaFrance OS 1994–1999 [29]
76 Al Lucas DL 2003 [32]
78 Sylvester Bembery OL/DL 1994–1999, 2001 [29]

Arena Football Hall of Famers

Tampa Bay Storm Hall of Famers
No.NameYear InductedPosition(s)Years w/ Storm
78 Sylvester Bembery 2011 OL/DL 1994–1999
2001
30 Andre Bowden 2014 FB/LB 1991–1993
1997–2001
2003–2004
7 Jay Gruden 1999 QB 1991–1996
25 George LaFrance 2011 OS 1994–1999
-- Joe March 2000 OL/DL 1993–1996
-- Tim Marcum 1998 Head Coach 1995–2010
22 Lawrence Samuels 2013 WR/LB 1994–2000
2002–2010
Omarr Smith 2014 WR/DB 2003
20 Stevie Thomas 2011 WR/DB 1991–1999
54 Craig Walls 1998 OL/DL 1987–1988

Individual awards

Wide Receiver of the Year
SeasonPlayerPosition
2017 Joe Hills WR

All-Arena players

The following Gladiators/Storm players were named to All-Arena Teams:

All-Ironman players

The following Gladiators/Storm players were named to All-Ironman Teams:

All-Rookie players

The following Gladiators/Storm players were named to All-Rookie Teams:

Coaches of note

Head coaches

NameTermRegular seasonPlayoffsAwards
WLWin%WL
Joe Haering [33] 19871990 1513.53603
Darrel Jackson [34] 1989 11.50011
Fran Curci [35] 1991 82.80020 AFL Coach of the Year (1991), ArenaBowl winning coach (V).
Lary Kuharich [36] 19921994 259.73542 ArenaBowl winning coach (VII)
Tim Marcum [37] 19952010 14077.6451610AFL Coach of the Year (1987, 1998), 3× ArenaBowl winning coach (IX, X, XVII), AFL Hall of Fame (1998), Founder's Award winner (2001)
Dave Ewart [38] 20052006, 20112013 2534.42402
Lawrence Samuels [39] 20142016 1735.32701
Ron James [40] 2017 104.71411 AFL Coach of the Year (2017)

Staff

Final Tampa Bay Storm staff
Front Office
  • Owner/Chairman – Jeffrey Vinik
  • President – Derrick Brooks
  • Chief Operating Officer – Steve Griggs
  • AFL Board Member – Elmer Straub
 

Coaches

Cheerleaders

The Storm created an official cheerleading squad called the "Storm Cheerleaders." [41]

Radio and television

The Tampa Bay Storm games were broadcast on Storm Radio, which was on 1250-AM WHNZ. The final radio play-by-play announcer was Darek Sharp, who was also a producer and broadcaster for AM 620 WDAE, and the radio color commentator was Ian Beckles.

Season-by-season

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References

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