SBD/March 22, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

AFL Set To Begin Season With New TV Deal, League Title Sponsor, But Three Fewer Teams

The AFL kicks off its ‘13 season on Saturday with the first of CBS Sports Network’s 19 regular-season broadcasts as part of a two-year deal. The net begins its schedule with Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul at 8:00pm ET. The league's ArenaBowl championship game will air on CBS on Aug. 17. NFL Network had AFL rights since ‘10 with a series of one-year deals. AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz said the new TV deal is a key to raising the profile of the indoor league. The AFL also opens this season with a new five-year CBA and a league title sponsorship with Net10 Wireless. Kurz said, “We’ve had our speed-bumps, but this is a growing year. The opportunity to be on CBS Sports Network on Saturdays with a large window from 6:00-10:00pm allows us to have every team on a national broadcast at least once this year.” The AFL will field 14 teams for the ‘13 season, compared with 17 teams last year. The league contracted the Georgia Force and K.C. Command, and shut down the Milwaukee Mustangs for a return next season. The AFL also renewed its league deals with Russell Athletic, Spalding and Riddell. Kurz: “We are pleased that there is some momentum and it is now up to us to put more butts in the seats and more eyeballs on the screen.” New to the AFL is Chicago Rush Owner David Staral Jr., a locally-based entrepreneur and private-equity firm manager. Staral bought the team in the AFL’s largest market just six weeks ago and is expected to add a minority partner from within the NFL by the team’s opening game on Saturday. He refused to disclose any new partners. Staral: “My goal coming in was getting the Rush back to the forefront of the AFL by next season. The biggest challenge is trying to accomplish six months of work in six weeks.”
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