History of the AIF-AIFA
History of the AIF - AIFA
John Morris’ entry into professional football came on July 4, 2005 when he helped form an outdoor minor league developmental team, the Gulf Coast Raiders of the Southern States Football League. The teams’ main focus was to help young men get a second chance in the game of football. The Gulf Coast Raiders went on to have a very successful first season winning the Southern Division of the SSFL with a 9-1 record.On April 28, 2006 the Gulf Coast Raiders played as a replacement team in a game against Osceola of the National Indoor Football League, as the Montgomery Maulers. This was Johns first experience in indoor football. That May John and a partner purchased the Montgomery Maulers of the NIFL during the 2006 season and immediately resolved all past issues and turned the season around. At the completion of the 2006 season in the NIFL Morris and his partner decided that the NIFL was not the long range direction they wanted to go in and they later formed the AIFA in October 2006. The savannah Indoor Football Association was formed from the culmination of teams from other existing indoor leagues and new expansion markets. The AIFA was formed for the purpose of giving players a platform to excel and work to continuing their football careers at a higher level.
- 2007 -The AIFA and was relatively successful for the league, as all 112 scheduled games were played and no teams folded mid-season a huge accomplishment for a first year league. The AIFA Championship Bowl I was a neutral site game held in Florence, SC. In addition, the league held its 1st All-Star Game the same weekend, also in Florence. Both of those games were the first experience the AIFA had in television as both games where televised live and syndicated nationwide to television markets from Alaska to the U.S. Virgin Islands. League and team owners chose the neutral site so that both games could be televised to obtain nationwide exposure for the league.
- 2008 -The league had nationwide expansion and individual teams have been able to acquire several players with NFL experience, a sign that the league has achieved a level on par with leagues such as af2. The league also televised a league game of the week in 2008 on a taped delayed basis to several outlets most notable Fox Sports Net - Pittsburgh. This gave the AIFA great exposure on the east coast as well as additional exposure nationwide through satellite coverage of FSN-Pittsburgh on Direct TV and Dish TV. The AIFA Champion in 2008 was the Florence Phantoms who beat the Wyoming Cavalry 48-12 in front of a crowd of 5400 local fans
- 2009 -The AIFA league owners instituted a first of it kind $70,000.00 playoff incentive package that covered playoff expenses for its member teams. This allowed AIFA teams to budget through the completion of the regular season and not have to worry about additional playoff expenses. The 2009 season culminated in AIFA Bowl 3, hosted by the Western Conference champion Wyoming Cavalry on July 25, 2009. The game, played before 6,500 fans at the Casper Event Center, saw the Reading Express defeat the Wyoming Cavalry for their first title, 65-42. On September 12, 2009 the AIFA announced a national game of the week television package for the 2010 season. This package was syndicated taped delayed by Cap Sports Group to a minimum 35 million households and consisted of the 2010 AIFA Kickoff Classic from Richmond Va. on January 23rd 2010, eight regular season games and the 2010 Championship game.
- 2010 -The AIFA continued to expand its nationwide footprint. Expansion franchises have been added in Richmond, Virginia and Wenatchee, Washington. The creation of this alliance was important to teams that wanted to play regionally under a business model that more appropriately fits their market. In order to accommodate such markets the AIFA had to build bridges. Regional play within a league structure made perfect sense at this level. In a time when teams are looking to be as trim as possible the league was forging partnerships that make sense. This league played as a regional league playing in divisions that define their territory yet played under a super-regional umbrella footprint.
- 2011 -The AIFA east teams merged with the Southern Indoor Football League looking to expand its footprint. After engaging in strategic discussions, the two leagues took a major step that presented an immediate impact on the national indoor football landscape and created a league that stretched from New Jersey to Texas
- 2012 - The Cape Fear Heroes run the table and go undefeated at 9-0 as they beat the California Eagles in the AIF championship game 79-27. The AIF was split into two divisions in 2012 an east coast and a west coast, the Heroes represented the east while the Eagles represented the west. East teams included the Cape Fear Heroes, Macon Steel, Carolina Force, Tri-States Redhawks, Virginia Badgers, Maryland Reapers and Harrisburg Stampede the West teams included the Ontario Warriors, Arizona Outlaws, Stockton Lightning, California Eagles and the Nevada Lynk. The Eagles were chosen as the west coast opponent after the Ontario Warriors were disqualified from the playoffs for league violations.
- 2013 - The season was played with the following teams York Capitals, Harrisburg Stampede, Washington Eagles, Cape Fear Heroes and the Virginia Badgers. Three teams made the playoffs that year the Cape Fear Heroes, Harrisburg Stampede and York Capitals. The Heroes won the regular season title and earned a first round bye while the Harrisburg Stampede defeated the York Capitals in a close game in the semi-final round of the playoffs. The AIF Championship Game was played in Fayetteville NC on June 13 and featured the home team Heroes defending their 2012 championship against the visiting Stampede. Both teams split games during the regular season however it was the Stampede that prevailed the victor by a score of 57 to 42 in the championship game.
- 2014 – The season was played with the following teams; savannah Sharks, Baltimore Mariners, Cape Fear Heroes, Cleveland Patriots, Rochester Raiders, York Capitals and the Washington Eagles. The 2014 AIF Championship Game will be played in Fayetteville NC as the Cape Fear Heroes take on the Baltimore Mariners.
AIF - AIFA Accomplishments
- Regional and National Television Exposure
- League profit sharing
- National in store retail merchandise program
- Regional and National Sponsors
- Partner with USA College Bowl. Conducted first ever draft in 2014
- Partner with Red Zone Productions.
- Ties to National Media