The first confirmed A11 Football League team will make its home in Florida.
If the last 40 years of alternative outdoor professional football is any indication, the odds are good that the team will have success on the field, in the stands or both.
- In 1974, the Florida Blazers, based in Orlando, sported one of the World Football League’s best regular-season records at 14-6, and won the WFL’s Eastern Division. The Blazers then won their two playoff games before losing what turned out to be the league’s lone championship game, the World Bowl, 22-21, to the Birmingham Americans.
- From 1983-85, the Tampa Bay Bandits were one of the United States Football League’s model franchises. The Bandits won 11, 14 and 10 games in their three 18-game regular seasons, and qualified for the USFL playoffs twice. The Bandits also were a hit at the box office, posting three of the top seven single-season average attendance marks in USFL history.
- From 1984-85, the Jacksonville Bulls, while falling short on the field, were a big hit with the football-crazed faithful in northern Florida. The Bulls’ average attendance of 46,730 in their expansion season was the best in USFL history, and their average of 44,325 in 1985 was fourth-best.
- In 1992, the World League of American Football’s Orlando Thunder, in its and the league’s second year of existence, went 8-2 in the regular season, won the North American East division and got to World Bowl ’92, falling 21-17 to the Sacramento Surge.
- The XFL’s one and only season of 2001 saw the Orlando Rage win the league’s Eastern Division and have its best regular-season record at 8-2 before losing to the San Francisco Demons in the playoffs, 26-25.
- And, most recently, the United Football League’s Florida Tuskers, also out of Orlando, made a run at a pair of league championships in 2009 and 2010 – a run that included an undefeated regular season (6-0) in 2009. The Tuskers, however, lost in the title game both times to the Las Vegas Locomotives.
OK, so Florida-based alternative outdoor professional football teams haven’t been able to bring home the big prize in their respective leagues. But that will be the goal of the A11FL’s Florida-based team – to end the string of 40 years of frustration.