1998 Results | Game Coverage

Excerpts from the Commissioner's Press Conference

Commissioner Baker
Photo by Andrew Mason.
On having the Storm and Predators in ArenaBowl XII:

"It's not quite like the North and the Confederacy here, but it's the war on I-4. We're excited about it. I think it's great, not only for the state of Florida, but it's great for the Arena Football League, because this year we're having our first network television game, live on ABC on Sunday, and we're excited about that. We think this is a great matchup on the field, and with all the fans who will be in the stands."

On Arena Football attracting fans of other sports:

"Well, you know, we've had a lot of references to that, by Sports Illustrated, by U.S. News and World Report who've said that fans were beginning to leave more established sports for Arena Football because of its image as a fan- friendly sport, and, frankly, that's why I come to work in the morning, because we've got players that stick around and sign autographes after the game for 20 to 30 minutes after a game. This year, in our league, we had five teams reduce their ticket prices. That's unheard of in sports. We've got a substance abuse policy that I think is the best in all of sports and supported mostly by the players. For all of those reasons, I think that most of us---me speaking as a fan---sometimes we get tired of the perception of greedy owners and spoiled players. We've got some guys here that are a part of their community, and I guarantee you on Sunday, they will be fighting the battle of their life to win for their community, as well as themselves."

Are you excited about ArenaBowl XII?

"I'll tell you what---I'm excited about ArenaBowl XII. I'm excited about the new sponsors that are going to be at the game. I'm excited about other network television opportunities that come after that, and I'm excited about an expanded schedule. I'm excited about next year having a team in Buffalo, and I can tell you that we have more enthusiasm and interest in expansion than we can possibly handle in this league. So the issue isn't where we grow, the issue is, how can we grow effectively, maintaining our mission statement to the fans."

On the league's growth:

"How you handle growth is a critical issue. Can we expand by six teams in one year? I don't think so. As for expanding by two or four---those are things we've got to make sure that happen. It's important that the quality on the field be top-notch. But what's also important is the presentation of the quality to that fan. We can never forget that the guy at the Kiwanis club or the Rotary club, or the guy who's getting off a construction job on Friday to come over here, that that guy is the guy we serve.

On the potential for international expansion:

We're looking at growth not just in the United States. We're looking at growth in Canada, Mexico, Europe---I'm going to be in Europe immediately after the ArenaBowl. Our game is catching fire in a lot of places. And no matter how far we go in the world, and no matter how big we grow, that guy is who we serve."

On the perfect ArenaBowl Sunday:

"I think we want it to be a great presentation of the game. I want the game to be a clean, hard-fought, absolute battle, where every guy is expended as they come off this field. When you're commissioner, you've got to forgive me, but you always want it to go into overtime, and generally hope that the home team wins."

On the relationship with the NFL:

Commissioner Baker
Photo by Andrew Mason.
"I don't know that it's a marriage yet. We're probably not going steady, but we're dating a lot. It's kind of one of those deals where we're excited about every date. The NFL is the preeminent organization in football in the world, but I think we represent an opportunity to work with them in the creation of year-round, worldwide football for a whole new generation. Our fans are younger than some of their fans, but they're the NFL fans of tomorrow. I think if you look at what the NBA has done with the WNBA, that has been a tremendous marketing effort to create year-round basketball, where the NBA, whether it's through their mens' league or through their womens' league, is in front of the public all year round. Well, the NFL can't be in a situation to start a women's pro tackle football league. But they could have the opportunity to have the NFL Indoors, if you will. So we think that that's a tremendous opportunity. The first step in the growing relationship that we've had has been talking to owners who themselves would be interested in having an Arena Football team."

Is the league satisfied with the attendance?

"I think we are. If you look at places like Milwaukee or Grand Rapids or certainly Arizona, I think that those are great places. What I'm excited about is what we're going to be doing next year. I think next year the presentation is going to be great throughout the league."

On the Arena Football fans:

"I think that the Arena Football fan is one of the most passionate and faithful and loyal of all [sports fans]. Some of those people in the Storm Krew here, that borderlines between passionate, faithful and loyal and being certifiable."

Copyright © 1996 - 1999 by Gale Force Design. All rights reserved.