Indoor Football League
Upcoming season or competition:
Current sports event 2022 Indoor Football League season
IFL Logo 2020.png
SportIndoor football
Founded2008
Inaugural season2009
CommissionerTodd Tryon[1]
Claim to fameAmerica's longest continuously running indoor football league
No. of teams15 (14 current, 1 expansion)
CountryUnited States
HeadquartersGrand Island, Nebraska
Most recent
champion(s)
Massachusetts Pirates (1st title)
Most titlesSioux Falls Storm (7)
TV partner(s)YouTube
Stadium
Related
competitions
Intense Football League
United Indoor Football
Official websitegoifl.com

The Indoor Football League (IFL) is a professional indoor American football league created in 2008 out of the merger between the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football. It has one of the largest number of currently active teams among indoor football leagues. The league has operated continuously under the same name and corporate structure longer than any other current indoor football league. With the closure of the Arena Football League in 2019, the IFL is the oldest active professional indoor football league in North America.

IFL players earn US$250-$500 per game played,[2][3] while $25 bonus is given to players on the winning team each week.[4] Additionally, the teams provide housing for its players during the season.[5] The 2022 season consists of 14 teams in two conferences with each team playing 16 games over 19 weeks.

History

Formation

Original Logo from 2009 to 2019
Original Logo from 2009 to 2019

The league was formed as a merger between the Intense Football League and United Indoor Football, announced the day before the 2008 National Indoor Bowl Championship, a game which pitted the champions of the two leagues against each other. The Sioux Falls Storm (United) defeated the Louisiana Swashbucklers (Intense) 54–42.

2009 season

Main article: 2009 Indoor Football League season

Of the 17 teams involved in the two previous leagues, 14 moved over to the new organization's 2009 season. An additional three teams came over from the CIFL and two expansion teams began their life in the new IFL. In the United Bowl, the Billings Outlaws (Intense Conference) took the league championship by defeating the RiverCity Rage (United Conference) by a score of 71–62.

2010s

2010 season

Main article: 2010 Indoor Football League season

After losing two teams to attrition after the end of the 2009 season, and a third in January 2010, the IFL then added another nine franchises to boost its membership to 25 for the 2010 season. Three of the new teams were expansion franchises. Two moved over from the Southern Indoor Football League and Continental Indoor Football League. After playing nine games of the 2010 season the Alaska Wild suspended operations, leaving only 24 teams to finish the year. In the United Bowl, the Billings Outlaws (Intense Conference) took the league championship by defeating the Sioux Falls Storm (United Conference) by a score of 43–34.

2011 season

Main article: 2011 Indoor Football League season

Seven new teams were added to the IFL for the 2011 season. Some of these were new expansion teams, and others moved to the IFL from the AIFA. The IFL also lost nine teams during the offseason, bringing the total number to 22 for 2011. In the United Bowl, the Sioux Falls Storm (United Conference) took the league championship by defeating the Tri-Cities Fever (Intense Conference) by a score of 37–10.

2012 season

Main article: 2012 Indoor Football League season

The league had 16 teams that played the 2012 season. For the 2012 season, the IFL switched to a two-conference format with no divisions,[6] due in large part to the loss of all the Texas-based teams (except the Allen Wranglers) to the newly formed Lone Star Football League. The Wranglers brought attention to the league for offering a $500,000 contract to unemployed wide receiver Terrell Owens to become the team's part-owner and wide receiver. Owens accepted the contract. ESPN3 carried Owens's debut game against the Wichita Wild, but his association with the team and the league proved to be short-lived. The front office of the league saw changes as well, as Commissioner Tommy Benizio resigned.[7] The league appointed assistant commissioner Robert Loving as the interim Commissioner.[7]

2013 season

Main article: 2013 Indoor Football League season

On October 12, 2012, the Bloomington Edge announced that the team had been sold to the owners of the Bloomington Blaze hockey franchise and would relocate to the new Champions Professional Indoor Football League for the 2013 season.[8] On January 21, 2013, the league announced that the owner of the Cheyenne Warriors had died and that the team would not be entering the league this season as planned.

2014 season

Main article: 2014 Indoor Football League season

The league added the Minnesota-based Bemidji Axemen to expand to 10 teams but the Chicago Slaughter were sold and changed leagues, returning the IFL to nine teams for the 2014 season. In February 2014, the league announced that it would return to Montana in 2015 with the new Billings Wolves franchise.[9]

2015 season

Main article: 2015 Indoor Football League season

On July 27, 2014, Iowa Barnstormers president Jeff Lamberti hinted at joining the league by telling a local TV station that the franchise will explore "all options" in the off-season of their continuance to play, including leaving the Arena Football League and going to the IFL for 2015.[10] They joined the IFL in August 2014, becoming the fourth active AFL/af2 franchise to leave for the IFL since the Texas Revolution (formerly the Arkansas Twisters), the Tri-Cities Fever and the Green Bay Blizzard. (The Revolution left the IFL for Champions Indoor Football before ceasing operations in May 2019.)

2016 season

Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (gold jerseys with black accents) vs. Triangle Torch (black jerseys with red and yellow accents) at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, March 25, 2016
Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (gold jerseys with black accents) vs. Triangle Torch (black jerseys with red and yellow accents) at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, March 25, 2016

Main article: 2016 Indoor Football League season

This was the first season the IFL utilized roster restrictions which call for all teams to carry no more than seven players with three or more years' experience in Indoor/Arena football.[11] For the second consecutive season, an AFL team was strongly rumored to join the IFL, as Spokane Shock owner Nader Naini said on August 10, 2015, that he was considering all options for the team.[12] On September 1, the Shock officially joined the IFL, becoming the fifth active AFL/af2 franchise to leave for the IFL since the aforementioned Barnstormers, Fever, Blizzard and Revolution.[13] The Shock, however, would have to enter the IFL under a new identity as the Arena League announced on October 12 that they would retain the rights to the Shock logos and name, possibly for future use by another franchise in the state of Washington.[14] The team subsequently held a name-the-team contest, which resulted in their new identity as the Spokane Empire.[15][16]

On September 9, the Minnesota Havok (based in Mankato) were announced as an IFL team.[17] However, on January 29, just four weeks before the 2016 season was to kick off, the Havok were terminated by the league for failing to meet operational standards.[18]

On November 25, the Minnesota Axemen folded due to the team "Not fulfilling their commitments to the league."[19] Commissioner Mike Allshouse called the move a proactive one to prevent the team having to fold mid-season.[20]

2017 season

Main article: 2017 Indoor Football League season

On June 30, 2016, the IFL announced that the Tri-Cities Fever franchise would be dormant, but in good standing with the IFL, for the 2017 season.[21]

Project FANchise, a group aiming to create a professional sports team where fans help run the day-to-day operations, announced they would operate a new team, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles in Salt Lake City. A fan vote determined the team's name and logo, and select fans will have access to player personnel decisions and in-game play calling. Project FANchise also bought the Colorado Crush in October and began operating the team in the same manner.

During the 2016 season, the Billings Wolves' website was hacked, was never completely fixed, and was non-operational for months. Several former staff members claimed that the team had folded after the completion of the season. On October 24, 2016, the Wolves announced they had left the IFL because of state regulations and failing to find new ownership for the team.[22]

On October 17, 2016, the IFL announced it had added the Arizona Rattlers, previously of the Arena Football League, for the 2017 season.[23] The Rattlers were the third team in three consecutive seasons to leave the AFL for the IFL. The league rejected the bid of another former AFL franchise, the Jacksonville Sharks, who are located outside the IFL's regional territory. They subsequently announced their charter membership in an entirely new league, originally to have been called the Arena Development League but actually beginning play under the name National Arena League.[24]

2018 season

Main article: 2018 Indoor Football League season

After the 2017 season came to a close, the website for the Colorado Crush was shut down with no formal announcement on the franchise's future. Project FANchise, which also ran the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, had announced they would start their own league and left the IFL, with both teams going up for sale.[25] No buyers for either team were subsequently found and the teams folded. On July 12, 2017, the Spokane Empire announced that they would be suspending operations effective immediately.[26]

On July 25, 2017, the IFL announced that only the Arizona Rattlers, Cedar Rapids Titans, Green Bay Blizzard, Iowa Barnstormers, and Nebraska Danger had committed to play for 2018.[27] However, expansion clubs and current member clubs had until September 1 to commit to the 2018 season.[28] On August 30, the Sioux Falls Storm announced that they had joined Champions Indoor Football for 2018 after winning six consecutive championships from 2011 to 2016. The Storm was shortly followed by the Wichita Falls Nighthawks.

The IFL then added the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen from the CIF on September 12.[29] The CIF apparently then attempted to sue the IFL, Edge, and Ironmen for leaving the CIF after the two teams had already signed league affiliation agreements with the CIF for 2018. The IFL then threatened to sue the CIF, Storm, and Nighthawks in return despite neither former IFL team signing an affiliation agreement with the IFL for 2018.[30] The CIF then retracted their lawsuit with the IFL but also removed the Storm and Nighthawks from their 2018 schedule.[31] After the IFL meetings in October 2017, the Storm returned to the IFL[32] but the Nighthawks had to suspend operations.[33] While the CIF did drop the lawsuit against the IFL, it filed for an injunction against the Edge and Ironmen teams from participating in the IFL for breaking the terms of their signed affiliation agreements. A temporary injunction from participation in the league was granted on January 31, 2018, with the court ruling determining that both teams had been offered bribes from the owner of the Arizona Rattlers to break their contract with the CIF.[34][35] The schedule was revised in February for the six participating teams stating the Edge and Ironmen were to return in 2019.

During the season, the Cedar Rapids Titans' ownership announced the team was for sale with hopes of selling to new local ownership.[36] In June 2018, it was announced that the Titans had been sold to Roy Choi, a California-based businessman, with the intentions of keeping the team Cedar Rapids but would rebrand the team.[37][38]

2019 season

Main article: 2019 Indoor Football League season

In August 2018, the IFL announced that the expansion Tucson Sugar Skulls, owned by Rattlers' coach Kevin Guy, were joining the league after being rumored to have joined the CIF. On September 7, the IFL announced that the Quad City Steamwheelers would join the league from the CIF.[39] The Cedar Rapids team announced their rebrand as the Cedar Rapids River Kings on September 22.[40] On October 5, the Bismarck Bucks of the CIF announced their move to the IFL.[41] On November 19, the IFL announced another expansion team, the San Diego Strike Force, owned by the new Cedar Rapids owner Roy Choi to bring the league back up to ten teams.[42] The addition of the Sugar Skulls and Strike Force gave the Rattlers geographic rivals, reducing that team's travel expenses in a league otherwise centered in the upper Midwest.

2020s

2020 season

Main article: 2020 Indoor Football League season

On August 20, 2019, the Duke City Gladiators joined the IFL after winning back-to-back CIF championships.[43] On September 10, the Oakland Panthers, co-owned by former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, joined the IFL for the 2020 season.[44] On November 1, the league added the Spokane Shock after it was resurrected by former NFL player Sam Adams, with the Spokane team reacquiring the Shock brand following the Empire's folding in 2017.[45][46] The Bosselman family were looking to sell the Nebraska Danger,[47] but no owner was found before the deadline for participating in the 2020 season. On November 24, 2019, the IFL added a thirteenth team in Frisco, Texas, owned by the Germain family called the Frisco Fighters.[48] The Germain family also purchased the sponsorship rights for the IFL, the management rights of the league's communications and marketing department, as well as a second expansion for the 2021 season in Columbus, Ohio, known as the Columbus Wild Dogs.[49][50]

Two games into the 2020 season, the league postponed the rest of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 13, 2020, the season was fully cancelled.[51]

2021 season

Main article: 2021 Indoor Football League season

The Frisco Fighters played their inaugural home opener against the Duke City Gladiators during the 2021 season.
The Frisco Fighters played their inaugural home opener against the Duke City Gladiators during the 2021 season.

On June 26, 2020, the Columbus Wild Dogs announced it would not begin play until 2022.[52] On August 19, 2020, the Massachusetts Pirates, formerly of the National Arena League, were added to the IFL for the 2021 season as the league's first East Coast-based team.[53] On August 25, the league added the Northern Arizona Wranglers in Prescott Valley, Arizona, for the 2021 season, joining the Arizona Rattlers and Tucson Sugar Skulls as the third IFL team to be based in Arizona for 2021.[54] On November 6, the Louisville Xtreme of Louisville, Kentucky, was added.[55] The 2020 expansion Oakland Panthers,[56] as well as the Cedar Rapids River Kings, Quad City Steamwheelers, and the San Diego Strike Force withdrew from the season due to the effects of the pandemic.[57][58] On May 11, 2021, the IFL announced as broadcast partnership with Stadium to air the IFL Game of the Week beginning May 15, 2021.[59] On June 14, the IFL terminated the Xtreme's membership after five games played due to failing to maintain the league's minimum obligations and did not finish the season.[60]

2022 season

Main article: 2022 Indoor Football League season

On May 11, 2021, the IFL announced that Bill Foley and the Vegas Golden Knights had purchased a 2022 expansion franchise to be based in the Las Vegas Valley called the Vegas Knight Hawks.[61] In October 2021, the league updated its website, removing the Cedar Rapids River Kings and postponing the launch of the Columbus Wild Dogs to 2023.[62] On February 24, 2022, the Spokane Shock were removed from the league after the team lost its lease for their home arena.[63][64]

Teams

Current

For the 2022 season, the league is split into two conferences.[65]

Team Location Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head coach
Eastern Conference
Bismarck Bucks Bismarck, North Dakota Bismarck Event Center 10,100 2017 2019 Rod Miller
Frisco Fighters Frisco, Texas Comerica Center 3,500 2019 2020 Billy Back
Green Bay Blizzard Green Bay, Wisconsin Resch Center 8,600 2003 2010 Corey Roberson
Iowa Barnstormers Des Moines, Iowa Wells Fargo Arena 15,181 1995 2015 Dave Mogensen
Massachusetts Pirates Worcester, Massachusetts DCU Center 12,339 2017 2021 Rayshaun Kizer
Quad City Steamwheelers Moline, Illinois TaxSlayer Center 9,200 2017 2019 Cory Ross
Sioux Falls Storm Sioux Falls, South Dakota Denny Sanford Premier Center 10,678 2000 2009 Kurtiss Riggs
Western Conference
Arizona Rattlers Phoenix, Arizona Footprint Center[66] 18,422 1992 2017 Kevin Guy
Bay Area Panthers San Jose, California SAP Center 17,562 2019 2020 Kurt Bryan
Duke City Gladiators Albuquerque, New Mexico Tingley Coliseum 9,286 2015 2020 Sherman Carter
Northern Arizona Wranglers Prescott Valley, Arizona Findlay Toyota Center 6,000 2020 2021 Les Moss
San Diego Strike Force San Diego, California Pechanga Arena 12,000 2018 2019 David Beezer
Tucson Sugar Skulls Tucson, Arizona Tucson Convention Center 8,962 2018 2019 Dixie Wooten
Vegas Knight Hawks[67] Henderson, Nevada[68] Dollar Loan Center 6,019 2021 2022 Mike Davis

Future teams

Team Location Arena Capacity Founded Joining Head coach
Columbus Wild Dogs[69] Columbus, Ohio Nationwide Arena 18,500 2019 2023 Bobby Olive

Map of teams

Indoor Football League is located in the United States
Wild Dogs
Wild Dogs
Current IFL team locations (Eastern Conference teams in blue; Western Conference teams in red; inactive IFL members teams in black)

Former

Timeline

Columbus Wild DogsVegas Knight HawksNorthern Arizona WranglersMassachusetts PiratesLouisville XtremeBay Area PanthersOakland PanthersFrisco FightersDuke City GladiatorsTucson Sugar SkullsSan Diego Strike ForceQuad City Steamwheelers (2018–)Bismarck BucksSalt Lake Screaming EaglesArizona RattlersSpokane ShockSpokane EmpireWichita Falls NighthawksIowa BarnstormersBillings WolvesMinnesota AxemenNew Mexico StarsCedar Rapids River KingsWyoming CavalryWenatchee Valley VenomReading ExpressNebraska DangerLehigh Valley SteelhawksBricktown BrawlersArizona AdrenalineTri-Cities FeverRichmond RevolutionLa Crosse SpartansGreen Bay BlizzardChicago SlaughterAustin TurfcatsTexas Revolution (indoor football)Everett RaptorsAmarillo VenomWichita WildWest Michigan ThunderHawksSioux Falls StormSioux City BanditsSan Angelo Stampede ExpressSaginaw StingRochester RaidersRiverCity RageOmaha BeefWest Texas RoughnecksMaryland ManiacsFairbanks GrizzliesEl Paso GeneralsCorpus Christi HammerheadsColorado Crush (IFL)Bloomington EdgeBillings OutlawsAbilene Ruff RidersAlaska Wild

United Bowl Championship

Main article: United Bowl (IFL)

The United Bowl is the IFL's championship game. It has been played every year since 2009. The current United Bowl Champions are the Massachusetts Pirates, who won the United Bowl championship in 2021. The Sioux Falls Storm won six straight United Bowls from 2011 to 2016.

The IFL continues to use the "United Bowl" name originally used by United Indoor Football. The UIF used this name before they merged with Intense Football League to form the Indoor Football League. The UIF held United Bowl I, II, III, and IV in 2005 through 2008, with all four being won by the Sioux Falls Storm. Although the name "National Indoor Bowl Championship" was used for the 2008 contest between the UIF and the Intense Football League, the "United Bowl" name continues to be used for the combined league's championship instead.

Media

On May 11, 2021, the IFL announced a national television partnership with Stadium, in which Stadium will air the IFL Game of The Week nationally each week for the rest of the season. The deal was negotiated by The Team Management, LLC, and each game will be produced exclusively by BEK Communications.[88]

All other games will still be streamed through YouTube. Some teams also have individual contracts with local or regional TV and radio channels.

IFL team media deals
Team TV Station(s) Radio Station(s)
Arizona Rattlers LATV[89] KQFN The Fanatic[90]
Bismarck Bucks BEK Sports[91] None
Duke City Gladiators UniMás Nuevo Mexico, KRQE 13 None
Frisco Fighters CW33(DFW), CW39 (Houston) KDBT 1160AM and KHYI 95.3 The Range[92]
Green Bay Blizzard ABC12, Telemundo Wisconsin None
Iowa Barnstormers MC22[93] Newsradio 1040 WHO[94]
Massachusetts Pirates NESN, NESN Plus, and Eleven Sports[95] None
Northern Arizona Wranglers Univision Arizona None
Sioux Falls Storm None KWSN Sports Radio 1230 AM[96]
Tucson Sugar Skulls The CW Tucson[97] Fox Sports 1450 AM[98]

Hall of Fame

The Indoor Football League Hall of Fame is the official Hall of Fame of the IFL. The creation and inaugural class for this Hall was formed in 2014 and consisted of three inductees. All classes between 2014 and 2019 have consisted of three inductees which have contributed to the league in a significant way. There were no inductees for 2020; however, the 2021 class included four inductees. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor for players, coaches, and contributors involved in the IFL. The league was formed out of the merger of two indoor football leagues United Indoor Football and Intense Football League, which qualifies players who have also contributed at a high level to these former leagues prior to the merger. This Hall of Fame only incorporates contributors to the IFL, and its former leagues, so no other indoor or arena football leagues factor into the inductions. The Arena Football League has its own corresponding Hall of Fame. There is currently no physical location for the Indoor Football League Hall of Fame. Unlike the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame, there is no museum to view the inductees. Instead, it is more similar to the Arena Football Hall of Fame in that the inductees are enshrined online and without a physical location.

Qualifications

In order to be nominated for the Indoor Football League Hall of Fame, a candidate must have contributed in some significant fashion to be enshrined in the Hall. There is no official criteria that must be met other than the self-explained significant contributions to the league. Unlike other football Hall of Fames, the IFL Hall of Fame is far more new and laxed. To qualify, a member would need to significantly contribute to a franchise that played in the IFL, United Indoor Football, or Intense Football League during their tenure.

Ceremony and Hall of Fame Game

Starting with the 2021 season, the league added a new tradition of a Hall of Fame game. Similar to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, the first game of the season will now commemorate and recognize the hall of fame class for that year. Before this, the inductees were celebrated during the United Bowl championship game.[99]

Inductees

The list is complete up to date 2021 Hall of Fame class.

Biographies and statistics can be referenced at the Hall of Fame web site.[100][101][102]
Inductee Class Position Team(s) Years
Tommy Benizio 2014 Commissioner, Owner, Co-founder Odessa Roughnecks 2004–2008
Commissioner 2008–2012
Rich Roste 2014 Announcer Sioux Falls Storm 2000–present
Terrance Bryant 2014 Quarterback Sioux Falls Storm 2005–2010, 2013
LaRon Council[103] 2015 Running Back La Crosse Spartans 2011
Green Bay Blizzard 2012
Cedar Rapids Titans 2013–2014
Chris Dixon[104] 2015 Quarterback Black Hills Red Dogs 2005
Billings Mavericks/ Outlaws 2005–2010
Sioux Falls Storm 2011–2012, 2014, 2019
B. J. Hill 2015 Defensive back/Kick return Green Bay Blizzard 2010–2013, 2018–2019
Mark Blackburn 2016 Linebacker Sioux Falls Storm 2003–2010
Lionell Singleton[105] 2016 Defensive back Tri-Cities Fever 2010–2015
Tom Wigley 2016 Owner Colorado Ice/ Crush 2010–2016
Robert Fuller 2017 Head Coach Omaha Beef 2005–2006
Fairbanks Grizzlies 2011
Green Bay Blizzard 2012–2013
Bemidji Axemen 2014
Cory Johnsen 2017 Defensive lineman Sioux Falls Storm 2006–2015
James Terry 2017 Wide receiver Sioux Falls Storm 2006–2015
Pig Brown 2018 Linebacker RiverCity Rage 2009
Nebraska Danger 2012–2015
Charlie Sanders 2018 Offensive lineman Billings Outlaws 2010
Sioux Falls Storm 2011–2016
Jameel Sewell 2018 Quarterback Green Bay Blizzard 2011
Nebraska Danger 2012–2016
Javicz Jones[106] 2019 Linebacker Texas Revolution 2014
Iowa Barnstormers 2015–2017
Myniya Smith 2019 Offensive lineman Billings Outlaws 2009–2010
Sioux Falls Storm 2011–2017
Bryan Pray[107] 2019 Wide receiver West Michigan ThunderHawks 2010
La Crosse Spartans 2011
Green Bay Blizzard 2012
Ceder Rapids Titans 2013–2015
Spokane Empire 2016
Iowa Barnstormers 2017
Fred Jackson 2021 Running back Sioux City Bandits 2004–2005
Heron O'Neal[108][109] 2021 Head coach Billings Outlaws 2006–2010
Colorado Ice/ Crush 2012–2016
John Pettit 2021 General manager/vice president Iowa Barnstormers 2008–2020
Kurtiss Riggs 2021 Head coach Sioux Falls Storm 2003–present

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