AMERICAN INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE (2005 - 2006)


NORTHERN CONFERENCE

CANTON ERIE HUNINGTON
LEGNEDS FREEZE HEROES
JOHNSTOWN MIAMI VALLEY READING
RIVERHAWKS SILVERBACKS EXPRESS
STEUBENVILLE SYRACUSE
STAMPEDE SOLDIERS

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE

AUGUSTA CAROLINA CHATTAHOOCHEE VALLEY
SPARTANS GHOSTRIDERS VIPERS
DAYTONA BEACH FLOERENCE RALEIGH
THUNDER PHANTOMS REBELS
RICHMOND ROME AIFL
BANDITS RENEGADES GHOSTCHASERS

Above is the alignment for the 2006 season of the AIFL. The league expanded by ten teams -- the Huntington Heroes, Miami Valley Silverbacks, Reading Express, Florence Phantoms, Daytona Beach Thunder, Steubenville Stampede, Syracuse Soldiers, Augusta Spartans, Chattahoochee Valley Vipers, and Rome Renegades. The Renegades came over from the NIFL, but the other franchises are all new.

The growth was not without some pain however as two teams -- Syracuse Soldiers and Carolina Ghostriders -- folded during the season. The Soldiers were replaced by several semi-pro teams to complete their schedule including the Cumberland Cardinals, Philadelphia Scorpions and Columbus Blackhawks. The Ghostriders were replaced with the AIFL Ghostchasers (another travel team). Another new team, the Steubenville Stampede forfeited games.


HISTORICAL TEAMS

CAROLINA GHOSTRIDERS

2005 2006 (first 4 games)

The Ghostriders were based in Charlotte, NC. In 2005 they played as a travel team to replace the Carolina Sharks, a charter franchise which dissolved days before their first game was to be played. The Ghostriders intended to be a regular team in 2006, but their own financial troubles forced them to fold only four games into the season. They were replaced by another travel team, the Ghostchasers, in order to complete the schedule.


FLORENCE PHANTOMS

Pre 2006 Prototype (?) 2006 - present

The Phantoms are based in Florence, SC. The first helmet above was used on various AIFL team websites, including the Phantoms homepage. However, it appears that the second helmet was the one actually used on the field.


JOHNSTOWN RIVERHAWKS

2005 2006

The Riverhawks play their home games in Johnstown, PA. I believe they are somehow connected to the Tennessee Riverhawks which played in the NIFL prior to 2005. If this is in fact true, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then the Riverhawks are the "first" franchise in the AIFL, being the only team to pre-date the league.

There was a third helmet design used on the team's homepage during the 2005 season. I'll add this version soon.


MIAMI VALLEY SILVERBACKS

Pre 2006 prototype (?) 2006

The Silverbacks played in Troy, OH. The first helmet above was used on various AIFL team websites, including the Phantoms homepage. However, it appears that the second helmet was the one actually used on the field.

Following the 2006 season, the team announced they were leaving the league to join the rival GLIFL.


RALEIGH REBELS

2005 2006

The Rebels were based in Raleigh, NC. The team played an all-road schedule in 2005 because they could not secure an arena lease until the 2006 season.

Following the 2006 season, the team announced they were leaving the league to help form the rival WIFL as the Carolina Bombers.


SYRACUSE SOLDIERS

Pre 2006 prototype (?) 2006

The Soliders played in Syracuse, NY. The first helmet above was used on various AIFL team websites, including the Phantoms homepage. However, it appears that the second helmet was the one actually used on the field.

The Soldiers were a quickly established replacement team for the Binghampton Brigade. The AIFL only had two weeks to put together a team after the Brigade folded prior to the season, and it showed. After 10 games, the team suspended operations and was replaced by traveling semi-pro teams including the Cumberland Cardinals, Philadelphia Scorpions and Columbus Blackhawks.


COMMENTS

The American Indoor Football league began play in 2005. The league originally was known as the Atlantic Indoor Football League as the teams were based largely on the East Coast, but changed its moniker following the inaugural season. They seem to have some connection to the NIFL, as the Riverhawks played in the NIFL in 2004. All the other charter teams appear to be brand new franchises.

The league got off to a rough start. Days before the opening game one team, the Charlotte Sharks suddenly folded. They were replaced by a travel team called the Ghostriders. The Raleigh Rebels are also played as a travel team as they could not secure a lease with an arena in Raleigh until 2006.

The 2006 season saw major expansion as the league added 10 new teams. The Rome Renegades defected from the NIFL, while the other franchises were new. An originally announced team, the Binghamton Brigade/ Brigadiers could not get insurance to cover playing in an arena in Binghampton, New York, and the team was hastily moved to nearby Syracuse and rechristened the Soldiers. They later suspended operations 10 games into the season.

Following the season, seven teams announced they were leaving the AIFL. The Augusta Spartans, Daytona Beach Thunder, Raleigh Rebels and Rome Renegades left to found their own league, the World Indoor Football League. Two other teams, the Miami Valley Silverbacks and Steubenville Stampede (who barely survived the season) both left to join the Great Lakes Football League. Another team, the Chattahoochee Valley Vipers, had their arena lease terminated and ceased operations.

As a result, the AIFL has announced further expansion. The Lakeland Thunderbolts and Montgomery Maulers (now known as the Bears) have left the NIFL and new teams -- the Danville (IN) Demolition, the Pittsburgh River Rats, Springfield Stallions, Tallahassee Titans and an unamed Tupelo, MS franchise -- have been announced. Yet another proposed franchise, the Caroline Fuel, are no longer mentioned.

I don't have a great deal of other information on the league. Any information on other helmet variations is much appreciated.


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