Tom Benson, owner of the popular Arena Football League franchise, says the economy is forcing him to cease operations.
Despite ranking among the league leaders in attendance, the New Orleans VooDoo (AFL) is ceasing operations, as owner Tom Benson says the economy is forcing him to make the difficult decision.
The team has averaged 14,321 fans a game in recent years. Benson, the owner of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, wouldn’t say much else about why he decided to fold the team. However, it’s been well-documented AFL officials have been looking at ways to improve the league’s struggling financial situation: one option making the rounds has individual owners selling out to a centralized ownership, a model that’s had at best mixed results on the sports front. David Baker announced earlier this year he was stepping down as AFL commissioner, and owners have contracted consultants Game Plan to explore new ownership options.
"Tom Benson and Rita Benson LeBlanc have been exemplary AFL operators, leaders and partners. The League is saddened to learn of their sudden decision to terminate their ownership of the VooDoo and regrets that they will no longer be part of the AFL family," said a written statement released by the AFL. "VooDoo fans and the New Orleans community will always maintain a special place in the history of the AFL for their support of two sold-out ArenaBowls. The league will examine all possibilities regarding the future of the team. This development will not prevent or delay the AFL from continuing to examine new structure possibilities."