What follows is an obvious statement: Arena Football will never be as big in Chicago as the Bears. Duh, right? But when it makes its return to Chicago, as it is now supposed to do, we'll be glad to have it back.
Something called Arena Football 1, an offshoot of the now-defunct Arena Football league whose local team was the Chicago Rush, appears to have at least 16 teams ready to play as soon as 2010, including a new Chicago franchise. Chicago is just one of four former Arena League markets to receive a new AF1 franchise. Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Orlando are the others.
The new league will be based in Tulsa, Okla., and will not be affiliated with either af2 or the original Arena Football league, which collapsed earlier this year after a series of bankruptcies and failed seasons, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"There has been arena football before," Jerry Kurz, a former af2 commissioner, told the Tribune. "It's been done well but not as good as it's going to be done this time."
We're not exactly sure what's going to be so much different or better about it; the Tribune is also reporting that the league plans to use the exact same rule book as the other two arena leagues. Perhaps a slate of new franchises in new locations can energize some fans and build some support. Or maybe they just plan on shooting way more t-shirts out of t-shirt launchers. That's "new," right?
In all seriousness, though, having a second football option in Chicago is not a bad thing. Of course the Chicago Rush -- or whatever this new team will be called -- will never reach the heights of the Bears or Bulls or Cubs or Sox in popularity. Hell, they probably won't even compete with the Chicago Fire. But for families looking to take their kids to a football game without spending $500-plus at Soldier Field, having arena football back in town is a major win.
Plus, those fields are so small, and every game is like 72-65. Who wouldn't watch that?
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.