In early June, the River City Raiders indoor football franchise concluded its inaugural campaign with an opening-round appearance in the American Indoor Football (AIF) national playoffs.
Earlier this week, the St. Charles County-based team found out that it would be the only AIF post-season it would ever reach.
This comes following the AIF’s official statement on Monday that the governing body would immediately cease operations.
In an excerpt from the announcement, AIF Commissioner and Owner John Morris stated, “We didn’t have to stop the AIF, but the timing is right as I feel confident that the new Arena Developmental League (ADL) formed by former league members will carry on the same mission I set out to accomplish over ten years ago.”
On Thursday, River City, who finished the season 7-2, respectfully acknowledged Morris and the AIF in a prepared statement.
“The whole Raiders organization would like to thank John Morris and his entire staff at the AIF for his fantastic 2016 season, and in addition to his commitment in indoor football,” said Raiders President/CEO Kenny Nowling. “We all would like to wish him and his family nothing but the best going forward.”
Lowering potential concerns as a result of the AIF closure, River City proclaimed that the franchise planned to move forward as well.
“We would like to let all of our fans and partners in ‘Indoor Raider Nation’ know that the River City Raiders will play in 2017, and we are currently in talks with various leagues at the moment,” said Vice President of Operations Jason Pilarski in the aforementioned Raiders’ public statement.
With the commitment of staying active as an operation, the quest for the Raiders is to now find a suitable, and stable, indoor football league to become a local affiliate of.
The newly-minted Arena Developmental League is scheduled to begin its inaugural season in March 2017. Currently, the league only has three teams listed, which includes the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, who defeated the Raiders, 54-52, in a first-round playoff game at the Family Arena in June. The league is hopeful that former AIF affiliates will join the fold, but as of right now, River City is not officially in the mix.
If the Raiders look for a more tenured option to align with, a quick glance of indoor football leagues currently in operation lists a potential pair that each contains Midwestern franchises and, more importantly, multiple turf season in their respective portfolios.
Founded in 2014, Champions Indoor Football (CIF) has six regionally-based teams that play within its Northern Division: Bloomington (IL) Edge, Chicago Eagles, Omaha Beef, Salina (KS) Liberty, Sioux City Bandits and Wichita Force. March 2017 will launch the league’s third season of play.
Meanwhile, founded in 2008, the Indoor Football League (IFL) has ten affiliated teams. Five representatives currently compete within its United Conference: Cedar Rapids Titans, Green Bay Blizzard, Iowa Barnstormers, Sioux Falls Storm and Wichita Falls Nighthawks. The former River City Rage played in the IFL in 2009, the franchises’ final season after five years of operation. The IFL’s ninth season kicks off February 2017.
As the River City brain trust is currently engaged in the early stages of finding a new national organization to call home, there is no front runner within the three aforementioned leagues listed, and it is even possible that a future alliance could be made with an organization not mentioned.
However, the Raiders’ Thursday public announcement of exploration did show that the franchise is committed to returning to the Family Arena’s turf in 2017, which is a lot more comforting than stating that they won’t be back at all.
For more information on the River City Raiders, go to indoorraiders.com.
Arch City Sports will provide future Raiders’ updates when they are publicly revealed.