Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Omaha's Pro Sports Future: Arena Football, not OAKs

Time to check in again with the dumbest idea in Omaha sports: the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. After finishing dead last in the AHL in attendance in 2005-06, the OAK's have surged to 26th place (out of 27 AHL teams). The miscalculations of the Omaha sports market by the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben and the Calgary Flames have been legendary and well-documented. In the end, the few supporters of professional sports point out that what they really like is Omaha being mentioned with the likes of Chicago, Toronto, and Houston.

Frankly there's nothing wrong with that.

However, minor league hockey is simply not going to work in Omaha when you already have established programs such as the Lancers and the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. In a market this size, three's a crowd. And pretty soon, the Flames will soon cut their losses and head for a market that doesn't have hockey. Kansas City might be a target, though they currently have their eyes on the Pittsburgh Penguins, should the plan for a new arena fail.

What would work in Omaha? Arena football.

Not sandlot indoor football like the Omaha Beef, but the full AFL. Today, ESPN invested into the AFL, guarenteeing that the ESPN hype machine will be in full force on the AFL, with Monday Night Football throughout the spring and summer. The AFL gives us noteworthy names for competition to satisify the folks that want to see Omaha in the big names: Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles. It gives us great regional rivalries: Colorado (Denver), Kansas City, and Chicago. It gives us reasonable ticket prices (most tickets are $8-$26 a game in Kansas City, Denver, and Chicago) and the season fills a void after UNO hockey and Creighton basketball vacates the Qwest Center.

According to today's media reports, the AFL is looking to expand. The AFL drew packed houses to Iowa moldy old Vets Auditorium, but left in search of a bigger market and venue. Looking around the AFL, average attendance seems to be around 12,000 fans a game. Certainly if the Omaha Beef can average over 5K for part-time indoor football as they bounce from one minor league to another, Omaha could support real Arena Football.

If our city fathers who tried to foist the ill-conceived OAK's want to take Omaha to the next level, they need to forget the AHL and think AFL.


AJ said...

Excellent post. Couldn't agree more.

Adam said...

I touched on this topic last December in The Reader in my 'wish list' column, and I think its still a viable option today. I think that the Beef are being mis-managed from the top on down. They need to get out of the junior high league that is the UIF and establish themselves in the AFL2 for starters. Casual fans aren't going to flock to the Civic to see Omaha play Sioux City, Bloomington and Sioux Falls, they likely would to mug for and ESPN camera at the Q and to see Philadelphia (and their owner Jon Bon Jovi) or Denver (and their owner John Elway). It could be neat...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

omaha beef rocks your just mad cause they wont let your broke down butt play!