Allentown, PA: In a joint statement made today, the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and Columbus Lions, formally of the Professional Indoor Football League, announced their intentions to play the 2016 season as members of the American Indoor Football League (AIF). Both teams were present at this past weekend’s AIF league meetings held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and are committed to bringing almost fifteen years of combined experience in indoor football to the league that has over ten years in existence itself.
Following the 2015 PIFL season the league owners were informed about the departure of one of its league members along with the Trenton Freedom announcing that they would cease operations. With five franchises remaining in the current PIFL, the remaining league owners worked diligently on all options for the future of the league. Within those discussions, and with sensitivity to time and planning for each team, three of the remaining five franchises elected the option to sit the 2016 out instead of playing under a different league affiliation. With no plans to sit out, the Steelhawks and Columbus Lions spent many weeks researching and speaking with other indoor leagues and team owners, and chose the AIF as their destination for play in 2016.
“There was never an option for the Steelhawks to sit out and not continue to bring this fun and amazing sport to our loyal fans and supporters,” stated Steelhawks General Manager Mike Clark. “We take a lot of pride in giving back to this community and providing entertainment to the Lehigh Valley. With our move last season to the brand new PPL Center, and the successes we’ve built on the field, we are excited to continue our growth and bring our experiences to the AIF. The defending PIFL Champion Columbus Lions making the move with us just adds to the quality of the league and level of competition. I know they share in our commitment to continue all the good our franchises do within our communities.”
Columbus Lions Owner Skip Seda added, “We didn’t feel that sitting out a year would be fair to our fans, staff and players so we searched and found a very good situation for us. People in Columbus, Phenix City and the Valley, love Lions football and we want to give it to them. The AIF has teams in Savannah, Atlanta, Lakeland FL, Raleigh NC and Winston Salem NC which gives us more natural rivals. I think fans will enjoy that. Our goal is to bring a championship back to Columbus for the third time in franchise history and the 1st back to back championship. Our fans know Lehigh as a worthy opponent that met us in the regular season but, they are also a highly respected successful organization that has been a longtime ally of the Lions. Having a team like Lehigh make the move with us was just icing on the cake.”
The AIF has been in existence for 10 years, and will have a minimum of twelve teams spanning from Michigan to Florida. Steelhawks fans will be excited to learn that there will be many new and regional rivalries for them to enjoy including the ASI Panthers based out of Reading, Pa, the newly formed Philadelphia (PA) Yellow Jackets, and the AIF defending Champion York (PA) Capitals. The Steelhawks will continue to provide a minimum of six (6) home dates inside the PPL Center, with the possibility of additional home playoff contests.
“We are excited to have these two first class organizations join the AIF for the 2016 season,” stated AIF Commissioner John Morris. “We have had a long standing relationship with both organizations and when the opportunity presented itself, we were extremely excited. We will also use their experience and knowledge to make us even stronger than we are now. Both the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and Columbus Lions are professional organizations, on and off of the field.”
The AIF team owners at league meetings agreed to some exciting rule changes from their previous style of play that fans in Lehigh Valley have come to enjoy. In the past the AIF allowed two men in motion pre-snap, but will adopt the traditional arena style of having one man in motion pre-snap going forward. In addition, the AIF added the Tight End rule which allows a pre snap offensive guard to declare as an eligible receiver. The league will also announce their division alignments in the next few weeks.
Keep checking for the latest news and events from the Steelhawks! For further information please call Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Clark at (610) 282-3100, or visit our website atwww.lvsteelhawks.com for the latest Steelhawks news!
Can’t get enough of the Hawks? Season ticket packages for the Steelhawks 2016 season inside the PPL Center will be on sale soon. You can reserve your seats for the 2016 season by calling the Steelhawks front office at 610-282-3100
Categories: Steel Hawks