PORTLAND – The Portland Thunder is pleased to announce its 2016 season schedule, with the Arena Football League officially releasing details Thursday morning.
The 29th Arena Football League season, and the third for the Portland Thunder, is set to begin on Friday, April 1, 2016. The Thunder will host the Arizona Rattlers that evening, with kick off from Moda Center set for 7:00 PM.
The Thunder will see six games out of its eight game road schedule completed by the end of Week 9 (May 28), and will have the first of its two byes in Week 4 (April 23). The Thunder will then have its six remaining home fixtures played along the final nine weeks of the 18 week season, including a four game home stand beginning in Week 12 (June 18), and the season finale against the Los Angeles KISS in Week 18 (August 1). The AFL will host a League-wide bye in Week 14, honoring the July 4th holiday.
The Thunder’s 2016 slate also features three match-ups each with the Rattlers and KISS, as well as a “home-and-home” series with every other AFL franchise, giving fans the opportunity to see every AFL team at Moda Center this season. Therefore, the Philadelphia Soul, the Orlando Predators, and the Cleveland Gladiators will all visit Portland for the first time.
All home games will kick off at 7:00 PM.
Additionally, the League has announced further changes to the 2016 season’s structure.
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 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.