The Redskins won't be the only football team in Washington if Capitals, Wizards and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis has his way.
Leonsis and his ownership group, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, are closing in on a deal to bring an Arena Football League team to the District, according to a Wednesday report by the Washington Post. The team would begin play as soon as the 2017 season and make its home at Verizon Center, also owned by Monumental.
“We’re in serious negotiations and we’re excited about the opportunity,” Monumental executive vice president Randall Boe told the Post. “[The AFL is] very interested in having dedicated ownership groups like us who know how to manage teams and who know how to manage the business.”
AFL commissioner Scott Butera echoed those sentiments. "We really like the Monumental group. We think they have a tremendous organization," he said.
The D.C. sports market also drew praise from Butera.
“It’s a great football town, if you look at the support the Redskins have had over the years, and the other teams in the area," he said. "The population density, the media attention, the fact that we’re looking for more presence on the East Coast: it’s a nice strategic fit for us."
Right now the AFL has eight teams divided into two conferences, but the geographic distribution isn't uniform after a recent league contraction. For example, the American Conference contains the Philadelphia Soul and three Florida-based franchises, with no team in between.
The arena game differs from the NFL in key aspects: It's played indoors on a 50-yard field surrounded by padded walls. Instead of 11 players, each team has eight men on the field at a time. And there is no punting, only place kicking or drop kicking.
Though there's never been an AFL team in Washington, there is one very prominent AFL veteran -- Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden won four ArenaBowls (the arena equivalent of the Super Bowl) during his playing days, plus a league MVP award.