Arena Football League franchise coming to Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
  • A new Arena Football League franchise is coming to Baltimore next spring.
  • The as-yet-unnamed team will play its games at Royal Farms Arena.
  • The team will be owned by Monumental Sports, which also owns the Wizards and Capitals.

Baltimore's football palette will expand next spring when a new Arena Football League team begins play at Royal Farms Arena.

The as-yet-unnamed franchise is owned by Monumental Sports, the same company that owns the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics. Monumental also owns another new Arena League team, the Washington Valor.

Ted Leonsis is the majority owner of Monumental Sports, which will own the new Arena Football League franchise in Baltimore.

"We are looking forward to bringing an AFL team to the Baltimore community," said Monumental Sports & Entertainment founder and majority owner Ted Leonsis in a statement. "Baltimore is known for its passionate sports fans, and we look forward to their spirited support of their AFL team. The AFL is a fast, fun experience for families and fans of all ages. We are excited about growing the league and using an array of technologies to bring fans closer to the game and the players. Baltimore is a natural location, and I envision some great rivalries between Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia."

This is hardly the city's first dalliance with non-NFL football, as fans of the USFL's Baltimore Stars and the Canadian Football League's Baltimore Stallions surely recall.

The Arena Football League has been around since 1987 and is known for it high-scoring, pass-happy games. Its most famous alumnus is former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

But the league has struggled to keep teams in business in recent years, and Leonsis' investment could help provide a lifeline.

"Baltimore is an ideal location for the Arena Football League and we look forward to rivalries with other AFL cities including Washington and Philadelphia," said the league's commissioner, Scott C. Butera, in a statement. "This expansion also demonstrates the dedication of our strong ownership group and its commitment to expanding the Arena Football League as a premier source of sports entertainment."

The league played with eight teams last season but was down to four before the announcement of the Baltimore franchise. The Philadelphia Soul won the league championship this year.

Monumental Sports said fans can secure tickets for the coming season — the 2016 schedule began in April — with a $50 deposit.

Monumental plans to broadcast games for the Baltimore and Washington franchises on its own Monumental Sports Network. CBS Sports Network broadcasts Arena League games weekly.