By Derek Harper
Last off-season was very busy and filled with quite a bit of drama, especially with the events that unfolded between Champions Indoor Football (CIF) and the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Sioux Falls Storm and Wichita Falls Nighthawks tried leaving for CIF as they thought they followed the process correctly. Following this the West Michigan Ironmen and Bloomington Edge left for the IFL after committing to the CIF. This breach of contract caused a legal battle to ensue. Both the Ironmen and Edge tried to return to the CIF, but refused to pay the $25k the CIF requested.
The Ironmen played one season in the Midwest Professional Indoor Football (MPIF), where they won the championship. The Ironmen will rejoin the CIF in 2019 with new ownership and the Edge will play a smaller independent schedule during the summer. When we asked the Edge about the rumor that they'd be returning to the CIF they replied with a quote from their General Manager that said "We have not had a single discussion with the CIF about re-joining that league and we do not anticipate any discussions with them." Bloomington's plans for the future are yet to be announced, but we'll be sure to keep everyone posted as news becomes available.
Recently we did research to figure out more of what happened and what could've happened if things had gone differently between the two leagues. It appears that last August the IFL and CIF were in talks of a merger but there were teams from each league who didn't agree on it. The teams that appeared to be against the merger were the Iowa Barnstormers, Nebraska Danger, Sioux Falls Storm, Sioux City Bandits, Duke City Gladiators, and Quad City Steamwheelers. It appears the defending United Bowl Champion, Arizona Rattlers were in the process of starting the merger as their ownership group filed trademarks for the Wichita Falls Nighthawks (now defunct), Green Bay Blizzard, Cedar Rapids Titans, West Michigan Ironmen, Centex Cavalry (now defunct), Omaha Beef, Kansas City Phantoms, Dallas Marshals (now defunct), Amarillo Venom, Bismarck Bucks, Texas Revolution, and Salina Liberty.
In November rumors started flying after the San Jose SaberCats got back online and a fan asked if they were coming back. The SaberCats replied not yet, more news after the first of the year. So far, there's been no word from San Jose. Then rumors started flying about a possible new west coast league that the Arizona Rattlers and San Jose SaberCats would be co-founders of. The Rattlers informed us that those rumors were false.
We reached out to IFL teams and a few other sources for comment on rumors such as the Cedar Rapids Titans moving to Tucson and what the IFL might look like with expansion come 2019. One source said they believed Cedar Rapids moving to Tucson was inked, while the Titans denied they're moving. When we asked Cedar Rapids about league expansion they said the league has several markets with potential ownership groups being explored for 2019 expansion. Should the Cedar Rapids Titans relocate to Tucson, they'd play at the Tucson Convention Center, currently home to the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League (AHL). The move would create an instant rivalry with the Arizona Rattlers who play at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix two hours north on Interstate 10. Cedar Rapids finished last season with a 1-15 record and currently sit at 1-10 this season with three games left. The Titans host the Nebraska Danger June 2nd before heading out on the road to finish the season with a game June 9th against the Green Bay Blizzard and June 16th against the Iowa Barnstormers.
The Sioux Falls Storm were also rumored to be the team moving to Tucson, we reached out to them and they said they're not moving. We then asked the Storm about the IFL's plan for expansion. The Storm said it was way too early at this point, but that the goal is to have a Midwest Division and a Western Division. We reached out to the Green Bay Blizzard and Nebraska Danger for comment, but have yet to receive a reply.