The Orlando Predators franchise has suspended operations and will be closing their doors effective immediately.
Orlando’s front office announced via press release today they have chosen to suspend team operations today due to the reduced number of teams remaining in the Arena Football League as well as pending disagreements with the league.
“We want to thank all Orlando Predators fans whose support during our ownership was the sole driving force behind all of our efforts.” the team said in a statement.
The AFL inaugural season was in 1987, making it the third longest running professional football league in North America. Orlando joined the AFL in 1991.
In 2016 the Predators celebrated their 25th season in the Arena Football League. Orlando finished 12-4, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Jacksonville Sharks.
Orlando considered one of established AFL franchises has won two ArenaBowl championships, and made the big game seven times. Orlando holds the AFL league record with 19 straight playoff appearances from 1992-2011.
In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel quarterback Bernard Morris said players were called individually Wednesday morning and told of the decisions.
“It was just basically stated what was happening and apologizing for it,” said Morris. “When things like that happen, it is kind of outside of the players, It’s things that we can’t control. Seeing a decline like hat is not really good for the league.”
The team had planned to hold open tryouts on Oct. 22 for the 2017 season. This news comes as a shock to the AFL world, and is not a good sign to the health of the Arena Football League’s future.
With the Orlando Predators out, the AFL is down to just eight teams.