Florida Firecats - af2


New division alignment for 25-team league also announced

New division alignment for 25-team league also announced

CHICAGO – arenafootball2 (af2) begins its 10th anniversary season with a special kickoff weekend that features a pair of intriguing divisional games. The League’s opening weekend gets started on Friday, March 20, with a West Division battle as the Tri-Cities Fever travel to Fresno, Calif. to take on the Central Valley Coyotes. On Saturday, March 21, the Florida Firecats host the South Georgia Wildcats in a South Division showdown.

Twenty of the remaining 21 teams in the af2, with the exception of Spokane, get their seasons started in Week 1 (March 27-29). The 2008 ArenaCup runner-up Shock begin their fourth af2 campaign on Friday, April 3 when they host Stockton.

A number of strong matchups highlight Week 1’s 12-game slate, including the return of Arena Football to Milwaukee, Wisc. The expansion Iron, led by Head Coach GARY COMPTON, open their first season in af2 by hosting the Iowa Barnstormers at the Bradley Center on Friday, March 27. Compton enjoyed a stellar playing career in the Arena Football League which spanned 13 seasons, seven of which were spent in Milwaukee as a member of the Milwaukee Mustangs (1995-2001). Another heavyweight battle that could turn into the main event of the weekend will take place on Saturday, March 28, when the defending Midwest Division Champion Green Bay Blizzard host the reigning ArenaCup Champion Tennessee Valley Vipers at the Resch Center.

“This schedule encompasses the best af2 has to offer in terms of competition, rivalry and balance,” says af2 President Jerry Kurz. “We’re excited by the addition of Milwaukee to our league family and feel that this, our 10th season, will be our most competitive and most entertaining ever.”

A few other notable matchups on the 2009 schedule include:

The defending Central Division Champion Tulsa Talons host the Lexington Horsemen on Saturday, March 28 at 8:00 ET in the brand-new, state-of-the-art BOK Center. This will be the Talons first contest at their new home after playing their previous nine seasons at the Tulsa Convention Center.

The Milwaukee Iron host the Green Bay Blizzard in Week 6 on Friday, May 1 at 8:05 p.m. ET at the Bradley Center. This will be the first of three meetings between the two teams in 2009. This matchup should quickly develop into quite a yearly rivalry as the new in-state and Midwest Division opponents are just over 100 miles apart.

The defending East Division Champion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers host their long-time division rivals, the Manchester Wolves, in Week 1 on Friday, March 27 at Wachovia Arena. This will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs in 2009. Manchester and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have squared off 21 times over the past seven years. The Pioneers currently hold an 11-10 advantage in the all-time series. Despite losing the season series 2-1 last year, Manchester was one of only three teams to defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2008.

Each team will play a total of 16 games (eight home/eight away). The alignment consists of the American and National Conference with three divisions per conference. The East, Midwest and South Divisions fall into the American Conference, while the Central, Southwest and West compose the National Conference. Thirteen (13) teams make up the American Conference and twelve (12) make up the National Conference. T

Optimal Planning Solutions Inc. (www.optimalplanning.com) assisted the af2 in producing the 2008 schedule. OPS is the leading provider of optimization-based professional sports-league scheduling.

The league’s 18-week, 200-game regular season schedule concludes on July 25.

About af2

With its 10th anniversary season set to begin in the spring of 2009, af2 serves as a vehicle to bring Arena Football to small-to-midsize cities and as a developmental league with an unmatched history of sending players, coaches and officials to major professional football leagues each year. af2 operates under the same Mission Statement and Fans’ Bill of Rights as the Arena Football League, which finished its 22nd season in July. Log on to www.af2.com for more information.