The Pittsburgh Power finished the 2014 season with a 15-3 record and their first playoff berth in franchise history. The first round loss to the Orlando Predators was a bit of a disappointment but the future appeared to be bright for the team.
That future came to a crashing halt today as the team announced it was ceasing operations after four seasons in the Arena Football League. The end didn’t come on the football field, it came via this simple press release giving new meaning to the term sudden death.
Pittsburgh Power close doors after four seasons in the Arena Football League
Despite showing franchise highs in season ticket and sponsorship sales throughout the off-season, the Pittsburgh Power will cease operations. “We would like to thank the city of Pittsburgh and the Power fan base for their support. Pittsburgh is a great sports town, and a phenomenal city to play for. We enjoyed each of the four seasons we played at the CONSOL Energy Center,” said Matt Shaner, Power CEO and Chairman. “We would also like to thank our corporate partners for the unwavering support they have given us throughout the years”.
The Power was founded in 2010 by entrepreneur Matt Shaner and NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. Trib Total Media purchased a stake in the ownership group in the 2014 season. The Power’s first game was in March 2011. That game broke the Arena Football League’s record for highest attendance for a franchise’s inaugural game. The Power played 4 seasons in the AFL, all of which culminated during the 2014 season in which the Power went 15-3 and clinched their first playoff berth.
All ticket sales from the 2015 season will be refunded in full.
I’ve covered the team since the very beginning by writing blogs, doing radio shows for TribLive Radio and finally moving up to becoming the beat writer for PSN. This past season I also got the amazing opportunity to become the public address announcer for the team so for me this news hits home personally. It also affects the die hard fans of the Power Up Fan Club who put their time and efforts into trying to help the fanbase grow.
I know the sport has always had its detractors in this city. Those who scream that Pittsburgh is only a major league town, or that the AFL isn’t real football. Most of those people never bothered taking in a game themselves. I get that it isn’t for everybody but I’ll never understand why so many people felt the need to bash a product they never tried for themselves.
This is a league where the players make themselves available to the fans, where they take the time to get to know the fans personally. No other league I know offers that up and the fans I’ve come to know over the years have always been thankful for that.
I’m thankful to the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the Pittsburgh Power the best they could be. I’m thankful to the players who put it all on the line and tried to represent our city with the best of their abilities. I’m thankful to the coaches I got to meet while doing my radio shows and also on the road for a few team broadcasts. Head Coach Ron James in particular never failed to answer my questions about game strategy and personnel to help me understand the game better than I ever did.
I don’t know all the particulars of why this happened but I can only hope that maybe this is not the last time we see arena football in Pittsburgh. It’s a sport I love and will always love. I firmly believe the sport can succeed here and hope it gets that chance again someday.
Photo courtesy of Jeffery Gamza/Power Facebook Page