Arena Football League Approves Atlantic City Expansion Team, Will Play Inside Boardwalk Hall

Posted on: January 24, 2019, 08:25h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2019, 08:25h.

The Arena Football League (AFL) is betting on Atlantic City as a host city for one of its two expansion teams that will compete in the upcoming 2019 season.   

Arena Football League Atlantic City
The Arena Football League is coming to Atlantic City in 2019. (Image: Arena Football League)

After undergoing a vast reorganization over the last several years that saw numerous teams fold, the AFL consists of just four teams – the Albany Empire, Baltimore Brigade, Philadelphia Soul, and Washington Valor. Atlantic City will make it five.

The AFL and New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) reached a deal to bring arena football to the beachfront town. Boardwalk Hall will be the team’s indoor arena, and fans will be tasked with settling on a name.

Atlantic City is a great market for the Arena Football League,” AFL Commissioner Randall Boe stated. “The AFL is focused on fan engagement and the integration of sports betting… Atlantic City is a perfect fit.”

The CRDA is tasked with facilitating economic and community development in Atlantic City. The agency recently terminated its $4 million annual subsidy for the Miss America Organization.

Return on Investment

The CRDA has been the subject of recent criticism for its Miss America support after former pageant officials were found to have made disparaging remarks regarding former winners.

New Jersey State Auditor Stephen Eells also found in a recent review that the CRDA “did not always ensure an effective and efficient use of its funds.” The CRDA is funded through a $5 per night resort hotel occupancy tax, and $3 per vehicle per day parking charge.

The AFL agreement reached this week with the CRDA only begins the contract negotiations. If anything can be learned from the past in Atlantic City, it’s that the town’s track record in supporting sports franchises isn’t the safest gamble.

The minor league baseball team Atlantic City Surf lasted 10 years before striking out. The Boardwalk Bullies, a minor league hockey team, and Atlantic City Seagulls, a minor league basketball team, each played in Boardwalk Hall for less than five years.

Sports Betting Impact

Football garners the most sports wagering activity in America. Nevada oddsmakers won $93.9 million over the last 12 months on the game. Of course, almost all of it comes from the NFL and college football.

Finding AFL odds at Las Vegas sportsbooks can be a difficult endeavor, but Atlantic City oddsmakers will presumably offer them with a home team in town.

It will be an opportunity for Atlantic City to come together and cheer for one thing,” Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam said. The season is expected to kick off in “mid to late April,” the AFL says.

Along with local fans picking the name of the organization, AFL President John Adams says area residents will be offered a chance to try out for the team. “A handful of our players move up to the NFL,” he explained.

Average attendance for the indoor games is around 9,500. Boardwalk Hall can hold more than 14,000 people.