The chances of an Arena Football team playing in the Florida SuncoastDome this summer have been reduced because of a decrease in revenue
projections by the league.
Arena Football president Jim Foster said Friday it now appears the league will not receive a national network contract, which would have allowed it to expand to 10 teams in cities across the country.
Officials are instead now working on a cable-TV deal.
The loss of the network contract is forcing Foster to plan instead for a six- or eight-team league with more centrally located franchises.
There will be teams in Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. In an effort to reduce travel expenses, the other teams will likely be awarded to more nearby cities such as Philadelphia, Richmond and St. Louis, Foster said.
As a result, communities such as Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and Sacramento, Calif., probably will not get teams this season, he said.
"St. Pete is still technically in the running, but we're going through the exercises right now of changing our revenue projections," Foster said from his Chicago office.
Foster said the league would begin talks with various cable networks. There is a chance the television companies would want some of the other cities, such as Tampa Bay, in the league because of their market size, Foster said.
If the companies were willing to increase their payments because of that, Foster said the league would oblige them.
Foster said he is committed to expanding to Florida, and the Suncoast Dome remains his top site.
"As far as the Tampa Bay market, my attitude remains unchanged that it's a good market and we feel we'd do real well," he said. "It's just a matter economically of what makes the most sense for this league."