AFL Announces 2016 Schedule
LAS VEGAS – The 29th Arena Football League season is set to kick off on Friday, April 1, as the 2016 AFL schedule was officially released today.
The League will feature eight teams in 2016, with each team playing 16 games and receiving two byes during the 18-week regular season. Week 14 will be a universal bye week in observation of Independence Day weekend.
With the change to a 16-game regular season schedule for the 2016 season, the AFL Board of Directors has approved an eight-team postseason tournament format to determine the ArenaBowl XXIX champion. In this format, all teams will qualify for the postseason and be seeded according to overall record. The regular season Conference Champions will be placed in the No. 1 and 2 seeds, while the remaining field will be filled in according to overall record, regardless of conference affiliation. Tournament play will have the No. 1 hosting No. 8, No. 2 hosting No. 7, No. 3 hosting No. 6 and No. 4 hosting No. 5.
“We felt this was a perfect opportunity to try a different approach to the postseason,” AFL Commissioner Scott Butera said. “Other leagues have discussed re-seeding options. We felt that a reduced number of teams and regular season games provided us the chance to try a different structure that has been discussed on the Rules and Competition Committee for a while. It will provide exciting and interesting postseason matchups that we haven’t historically seen.”
The Jacksonville Sharks, Orlando Predators, Philadelphia Soul, and Tampa Bay Storm will make up the American Conference, while the National Conference will be comprised of the Arizona Rattlers, Cleveland Gladiators, LA KISS, and Portland Thunder.
Every AFL team will be in action on opening weekend. The AFL’s most storied rivalry will headline Week 1, as the Tampa Bay Storm host the Orlando Predators at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday, April 1 in the vaunted “War on I-4”. The Cleveland Gladiators will also host their greatest rival, the Philadelphia Soul, at 7:00 p.m. ET while the Portland Thunder will defend their home turf against the Arizona Rattlers at 10:00 p.m. ET. The defending American Conference champion Jacksonville Sharks will hit the road to meet a revitalized LA KISS squad in the final matchup of opening weekend at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 2.
For the complete 2016 AFL regular season schedule, click here.
The national television broadcast schedule will be released at a later date.