Category: Arena Football League (1987-2019)

Arena Football League 1986-1991

AFL 1986-87

DateHome TeamAway Team
Test Game
27.04.1986Rockford Metros30Chicago Politicians18
Showcase Game
27.02.1987Chicago Bruisers30Miami Vice33
[References: 4-5]

AFL 1987

Pittsburgh Gladiators (C)6420268199.667
Denver Dynamite (P)6420261252.667
Chicago Bruisers6240217310.333
Washington Commandos6240288273.333

Reference: [1]

Home TeamAway Team
Arena Bowl I
Denver Dynamite45Pittsburgh Gladiators16

Reference: [1]

AFL 1988

Chicago Bruisers (C)121011526374.792
Detroit Drive (P)12930472310.750
Pittsburgh Gladiators (P)12660507491.500
Los Angeles Cobras (P)12561463449.458
New England Steamrollers12390330506.250
New York Knights122100337505.167

Reference: [1]

Home TeamAway Team
Detroit Drive34Pittsburgh Gladiators25
Chicago Bruisers29Los Angeles Cobras16
Arena Bowl II
Detroit Drive24Chicago Bruisers13

Reference: [1]

AFL 1989

Detroit Drive (C)431015484.750
Denver Dynamite (P)4310159147.750
Pittsburgh Gladiators (P)4310159147.750
Chicago Bruisers (P)4130167155.250
Maryland Commandos404079170.000

Reference: [1]

Home TeamAway Team
Detroit Drive43Chicago Bruisers10
Pittsburgh Gladiators39Denver Dynamite37
Arena Bowl III
Detroit Drive39Pittsburgh Gladiators26
Reference: [1]

AFL 1990

Detroit Drive (C)8620326215.750
Dallas Texans (P)8620299308.750
Denver Dynamite (P)8440289287.500
Pittsburgh Gladiators (P)8350289287.375
Albany Firebirds8350188268.375
Washington Commandos8260244264.250
Reference: [1]
Home TeamAway Team
First Round
Detroit Drive61Pittsburgh Gladiators30
Dallas Texans26Denver Dynamite25
Arena Bowl IV
Detroit Drive51Dallas Texans27
Reference: [1]

AFL 1991

*Detroit Drive10910437262.900
*Tampa Bay Storm10820421309.800
*Denver Dynamite10640389365.600
*Albany Firebirds10640427342.600
Dallas Texans10460286334.400
New Orleans Night10460314401.400
Orlando Predators10370321363.300
Columbus Thunderbolts100100241460.000
Reference: [1]
Home TeamAway Team
Detroit Drive37Albany Firebirds35
Tampa Bay Storm40Denver Dynamite13
Arena Bowl V
Tampa Ba Storm48Detroit Drive42
Reference: [1]


On February 11, 1981, James Foster witnessed an Indoor Soccer game at Madison Square Garden, and drew out the outline of an Indoor American Football field on a manilla envelope, using the same basic premise of a football field on a converted Ice Hockey rink. [2]

The first AFL test game was held on 27 April 1986 in Rockford, Illinois between the Rockford Metros and Chicago Politicians , and following positive public response the first “showcase game” in Chicago in front of 8,200 fans on February 27, 1987. [2; 4-5]

The AFL debut season began on 19 June 1987, with four teams: Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite, Pittsburgh Gladiators & Washington Comandos. Denver Dynamite won Arena Bowl I, defeating Pittsburgh Gladiators 45-16 [2]

The second AFL season featued an additional three teams: Los Angeles Cobras, New England Steamrollers & New York Knights, who played only that season. Washington Commandos sat out the season Detroit Drive won Arena Bowl II, 24-13 over Chicago Bruisers. [2]

The third AFL season, in 1989, was a shortened four-game season, with five teams, including the returned Commandos, now playing in Maryland. Detroit again won the Arena Bowl, beating Pittsburgh 39-26. Following the season, the league played two successful exhibition games in Paris (France) & London (England). THE US Patent office granted the league a Patent, making it the first patented, rival-free sports league in history. [2]

the fourth AFL season, saw an expansion of two teams: Albany Firebirds & Dallas Texans, with Chicago dropping out. Detroit Drive won the Arena Bowl for the third year in succession, defeating Dallas 51-27. [2]

A further expansion in 1991, saw teams added in Orlando (Predators) and New Orleans (Night) and Columbus (Thunderbolts), with Pittsburgh relocating to Tampa Bay, becoming the Storm and the Commandos ceasing operation.The league’s expansion into the Southeast would prove enduringly successful, with the Tampa Bay & Orlando franchises remaing in existence right through to the league’s waning years in the late-2010s. Detroit was defeated in the Arena Bowl 48-42 by the Tampa Bay Storm, ending the Drive’s attempts at a four-in-a-row. [2]

In 1992 the league expanded to 12 teams and three divisions, ending the AFL’s formative years, and beginning the AFL’s rise to become what the Wall Street Journal called the fifth Major [2].



[1] Arena Football League (2016) “2016 Record and Fact Book” pp. 57-65.

[2] Arena Football League (2016) “2016 Record and Fact Book” pp. 52-56.

Social Media

[3] Arena Fan Facebook Page (2021) Post, April 27, 1987 [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 4 June 2021]


[4] Arena Fan (2021) History 1986 Schedule [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 4 June 2021]

[5] Arena Fan (2021) History 1987 Schedule [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 4 June 2021]


Thanks to Richard Conville, Conor Lynch, Maurice Lynch, Dylan Brennan, Jonathan Brennan, Simon Brennan & Robert Byron.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball – Irish North American & World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 4 June 2021

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2019-21

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved. The Logos and Photos used in this article remain the property of the organisations and individuals which own the copyright and are used here for educational and information purposes only.

Arena Football League Arena Bowls 1987-2019

Arena Football League Logo 2019 [Reference: 1]

Arena Bowl Results 1987-2019

DateArena BowlWinnersRunners-Up
01.08.1987IDenver Dynamite45Pittsburgh Gladiators16
30.07.1988IIDetroit Drive24Chicago Bruisers13
18.08.1989IIIDetroit Drive39Pittsburgh Gladiators26
11.08.1990IVDetroit Drive51Dallas Texans27
17.08.1991VTampa Bay Storm48Detroit Drive42
22.08.1992VIDetroit Drive56Orlando Predators38
21.08.1993VIITampa Bay Storm51Detroit Drive31
02.09.1994VIIIArizona Rattlers36Orlando Predators31
01.09.1995IXTampa Bay Storm48Orlando Predators35
26.08.1996XTampa Bay Storm42Iowa Barnstormers38
25.08.1997XIArizona Rattlers55Iowa Barnstormers38
23.08.1998XIIOrlando Predators62Tampa Bay Storm31
21.08.1999XIIIAlbany Firebirds59Orlando Predators48
20.08.2000XIVOrlando Predators41Nashville Kats38
19.08.2001XVGrand Rapids Rampage64Nashville Kats42
19.08.2002XVISan Jose SaberCats52Arizona Rattlers14
22.06.2003XVIITampa Bay Storm43Arizona Rattlers29
27.06.2004XVIIISan Jose SaberCats69Arizona Rattlers62
12.06.2005XIXColorado Crush51Georgia Force48
11.06.2006XXChicago Rush69Orlando Predators61
29.07.2007XXISan Jose SaberCats55Columbus Destroyers33
27.07.2008XXIIPhiladelphia Soul59San Jose SaberCats56
2009Season Cancelled
20.08.2010XXIIISpokane Shock69Tampa Bay Storm57
12.08.2011XXIVJacksonville Sharks73Arizona Rattlers70
10.08.2012XXVArizona Rattlers72Philadelphia Soul54
17.08.2013XXVIArizona Rattlers48Philadelphia Soul39
23.08.2014XXVIIArizona Rattlers72Cleveland Gladiators32
29.08.2015XXVIIISan Jose SaberCats68Jacksonville Sharks47
26.08.2016XXIXPhiladelphia Soul56Arizona Rattlers42
26.08.2017XXXPhiladelphia Soul44Tampa Bay Storm40
28.07.2018XXXIWashington Valor69Baltimore Brigade55
11.08.2019XXXIIAlbany Empire45Philadelphia Soul27
[Reference: 2-10]


Arizona Rattlers and Tampa Bay Storm were the most successful Arena Football League team, winning the Arena Bowl a record fives times each. Other multiple winners of the Arena Bowl were San Jose SaberCats (4), Detroit Drive (4), Philadelphia Soul (3) and Orlando Predators (2). Single-time winners of the Bowl were Denver Dynamite (the first in 1987), Albany Empire (the last in 2019), Albany Firebirds, Grand Rapids Rampage, Colorado Crush, Chicago Rush, Jacksonville Sharks, Spokane Shock and Washington Valor.

The Arena Football League was the most successful of the Alternatives to the National Football League since the American Football League of 1960 to 1969. It played 32 seasons since its first official season in 1987, with one season (2009) cancelled. The Final Arena Bowl was played in 2019.

About Arena / Indoor Football

This version of American (or Gridiron) Football has become extremely popular in Mexico.

Indoor Football, also known as Arena Football was developed in 1986 as an 8v8 form of Indoor American Football. After an initial few seasons where the game was developed with a 4 team league, a full seasons League with eventually over a dozen teams was developed in the 1990 which was considered by the Wall Street Journal to be a fifth major.

The Arena Football League over-expanded in the 2000s with a Minor League, and its importance (and number of teams) waned since it first experienced financial diffulties  in 2009, and it ceased operations after the 2019 season due to the legacy debt incurred.

There is now, however, Indoor Football Leagues all over America, all of which would now be considered Minor League or Semi-Pro (AAA, AA, or even A)

Indoor Football is played on a 50-yard field with two 8-yard endzones, and teams have 5 downs (attempts) to reach the endzone or the ball is turned over. 3 of those downs must be passing plays, making Indoor Football highly explosive and high scoring.

The main difference between Arena Football & Indoor Football is the rebound nets either side of the goalposts in Arena Football, which is the only part of the original patent given to the Arena Football League in 1989, that a subsequent ruling in 1998 ruled was copyright, the rest being Football already in other leagues.



[1] Arena Football League (2019) Arena Football League Reveals New Logo [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 17 September 2019]


[2] Arena Football League (2016) 2016 Record and Factbook pp. 101-109 / 45.


[3] Arena Football League (2016) 2016 Standings [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 1 April 2017][Broken Link]

[4] Arena Football League (2017) 2017 Standings [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 16 September 2017][Broken Link]

[5] Arena Football League (2017) 2017 Schedule [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 16 September 2017][Broken Link]

[6] Arena Football League (2018) 2018 Standings [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 6 January 2019][Broken Link]

[7] Arena Football League (2018) 2018 Schedule [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 6 January 2019][Broken Link]

[8] Arena Football League (2018) 2019 Standings [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 26 July 2019][Broken Link]

[9] Arena Football League (2019) 2019 Schedule [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 8 September 2019][Broken Link]

[10]Arena Fan (2019) Arena Bowl History [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 19 February 2020]


Thanks to Todd Zboyan, Tim Leadingham. Bart Barden & Sam Thompson.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 19 February 2020

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Resereved.