Director of NAL Coverage
With rumors of Newark and/or Atlantic City getting teams, Arena Football Talk thought now would be a good time to look at the history of indoor and arena football in the Garden State.
In 1997 the Arena Football League (AFL) saw New Jersey field a team for the first time as the Red Dogs. After going 9 and 5, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals, falling to the Orlando Predators 37 to 45. The Red Dogs 1998 campaign was an improvement. After going 8-6 in the regular season they made it to the semifinals where they fell to the Tampa Bay Storm 49 to 23. In the 1999 season the Red Dogs missed the playoffs after a mediocre 6 and 8 campaign, and things got worse in 2000 as they went 4 and 10, again, missing the playoffs. For the 2001 season the team rebranded as the New Jersey Gladiators. Sadly, their record kept going downhill as the franchise hit a new low, going 2 and 12. That same year the Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL) gave New Jersey the Trenton Lightning, a pathetic team who lost six straight games before folding. In 2002 the Gladiators had a comeback year as they went 9 and 5, making it to the quarterfinals where they once again fell to the Orlando Predators, this time in a heartbreaking 46 to 49 loss. Unfortunately for Gladiators fans, the team relocated to Las Vegas.
The National Indoor Football League (NIFL) placed a team in Atlantic City as the Card Sharks joined for the 2004 campaign. The team posted a 9 and 5 record before falling to the Lexington Horsemen in the wild-card round of the playoffs. After the season the team disbanded. After the 2004 NIFL season the Staten Island Xtreme moved to New Jersey and became the XTreme. The team had an abysmal 0 and 14 in the 2005 campaign and folded in the offseason. In 2006 the upstart Great Lakes Indoor Football League (GLIFL) granted New Jersey a charter team with the New York/New Jersey Revolution. The team didn’t fare well during their first season as they went and abismal 0 and 10, finishing last in the league. The following season, the GLIFL rebranded as the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). Similar acronym, similar results. The Revolution went a sad 1-11. For the 2008 CIFL season the team rebranded as the New Jersey Revolution, and that year they went 3-9. In 2009 they played three semi-pro games and didn’t participate in the CIFL going 3 and 0. In 2010 the Revolution jumped to the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA) in what would end up being the final season for the team and the league the. However, New Jersey’s dense population continued to entice new leagues and teams.
The Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) put the Trenton Steel in The Garden State for the 2011 campaign. The team went 8 and 4 before they fell to the Columbus Lions in the Eastern Conference Round 1 before going under. Trenton fielded another indoor football team, the Trenton Freedom, joining the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) in 2014. The Freedom went 8 and 4 before falling to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks in the National Conference Championship. In the 2015 season the team went 6-6 and after season’s end the team folded. Last year, the Jersey Flight joined the American Arena League (AAL), going 5 and 3 in their inaugural season, but missing the playoffs.
Since the Red Dogs joined the AFL the Garden State has been home to seven franchises and partaken in eight leagues and over a decade of professional ball New Jersey has an illustrious history of the indoor and arena game.