Arena football is coming to Baltimore

Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, and Washington Mystics, is bringing an expansion Arena Football League franchise to Baltimore.

"We are looking forward to bringing an AFL team to the Baltimore community," said Leonsis in a written statement. "Baltimore is known for its passionate sports fans, and we look forward to their spirited support of their AFL team."

The yet-to-be-named team will begin play at Royal Farms Arena in spring of 2017, joining the Washington Valor, another expansion team owned by Leonsis, as the newest franchises in arena football.

The announcement comes at an interesting time for the sport, has ratings have declined for the NFL juggernaut and the arena game lost five of its eight franchises this offseason, including one affiliated with the rock group KISS.

In a statement, league commissioner Scott C. Butera said he hoped for a rivalry to form between the newly formed teams in Baltimore and Washington and the Philadelphia Soul, a team started by Jon Bon Jovi and currently owned by Eagles legend and ESPN commentator Ron Jaworski.

Baltimore has previously had two arena teams, both of which failed: the Baltimore Mariners, a member of the America Indoor Football league, and the Baltimore Charm, a lingerie football team.

For those hoping for Baltimore to one day have an NBA or NHL franchise, it's interesting, to say the least, that Leonsis is dabbling in both the Baltimore and Washington markets—often seen as competing for fans—at the same time.

A search is already underway for a head coach, who will also be tasked with assembling the roster. Season ticket plans are already on sale at BaltimoreAFL.com.

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