Boasting a representative team from every state in New England, the NEAL is quickly becoming a reality. According to their website, the New England Arena League has signed four teams: New England Cavalry, Vermont Bucks, Rhode Island Riptide, and Mass Wolverines. Soon to be added is the Beantown Bullies and a team representing Connecticut.
For their inaugural season the league will play all games at the Longplex Family and Sports Center in Tiverton, Rhode Island. This is not unlike the Elite Football League (EIF) which is also a professional developmental league who plays the majority of their games at the Statesboro Indoor Sports facility in Statesboro, Georgia. This one-field dynamic promises to keep costs low for NEAL team owners who will not have all the costs associated with a home facility.
But, will it work? As with any sport, fans enjoy going to their local arena and cheering on their home team. However, short of driving two hundred miles south, Vermont Bucks fans won't under the NEAL format. I guess a more accurate question is What is the leagues end game? According to league management “the vision for the league is a junior hockey league, for junior hockey teams, we just play arena football” Kevin James said. “This comes from my background in junior hockey and outdoor football, so I’m basically blending the two.”
According to a previously released information bulletin, the league is composed of teams who want to project their players, their team, their brand and their logo on a stage for national exposure. In addition, James says he’s focused on “helping, projecting and launching players to the next level.”
The New England Arena league is set to release their schedule in the next few weeks. The season will begin play the the first or second weekend in April, 2019 and wrap things up before June. James hopes to start the season with eight teams playing six regular season games and then the playoffs. James encourages fans and potential players to visit their new website neal.footballshift.com for the upcoming tryout slated for Saturday, March 2 and for more information about the NEAL.