The Orlando Predators, the Arena Football League team that celebrated its 25th earlier season this year, have reached their end.

Arena Football League’s Orlando Predators Suspend Team Operations

The Predators announced Wednesday they are suspending operations.

The team stated on its website the decision was made “due to the reduced number of teams remaining in the Arena Football League as well as pending disagreements with the League. Over the course of the past several years, we have focused on building and growing our winning franchise despite significant issues at the league level that have impaired our ability to be successful.”

Channel 9’s Sports Anchor Joe Kepner reported Wednesday the team planned on holding open tryouts Oct. 22, but later discovered the team was folding.


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The team’s organization thanked fans for their support.

The Arena Football League, which played with only eight teams in 2016, is in flux with the Predators’ announcement, as well as the Jacksonville Sharks’ plans to leave it and join another indoor football league. In an interview with the Florida Timees-Union, Sharks owner Jeff Bouchy did not specify which league his team will join but stated, “Other teams from the AFL are expected to join us.”

The Predators players, for their part, seem to accept their departure from the league. Quarterback Bernard Morris, who played high-school football at Jones, said he and his teammates were informed of the news on Wednesday morning.

“When things like that happen, it is kind of outside of the players,” Morris said from Jacksonville, where he resides. “It’s things that we can’t control. Seeing a decline like that is not really good for the league.”

Preds coach Rob Keefe claimed he could not discuss specifics. but expressed his appreciation in a statement.

“I do not have the words to describe how grateful I am to my coaches, staff and players over the course of my time here for pouring their heart and soul into their craft every minute of every day,” wrote Keefe, who joined the Preds in 2014. “It has been an honor and a truly great experience to represent all of the Orlando Predator fans worldwide. I will always cherish the great support the fans and the Central Florida community has given this great organization. Thank you for everything.”

The team announced 2017 season-ticket holders and sponsors will receive full refunds in the coming weeks.

Westgate Resorts, the Orlando-based company founded by timeshare mogul David Siegel, bought the Predators in 2014. Asked in a text message whether the Preds are folding for the 2017 season only or permanently, team president Jared Saft replied: “I’ve said all I can say at this time.”

The Predators were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Sharks in 2016. They won ArenaBowl championships in 1998 and 2000, when current Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden was their coach, and reached the league’s championship game seven times.

The Preds hold the arena-league record with 19 straight postseason appearances, from 1992 to 2011. The AFL suspended operations for the 2009 season.

The team’s fans also expressed disappointment in the news.

“I was completely distraught,” said Preds fan Jacob McCoy, a student at Valencia College in Orlando. “I couldn’t believe it.”

McCoy continued: “We are a big city, and we only have the Orlando Magic, and now we have the soccer team. I go to a lot of the [Orlando City] Lions’ games. We need sports. Taking away the Predators is really hurting us.”

20 Aug 2000: David Cool #3 of the Orlando Predators celebrates on the field during the Arena Bowl Game against the Nashville Kats at the TD Waterhouse Centre in Orlando, Florida. The Predators defeated the Kats 41-38.Mandatory Credit: Eliot J. Schechter /Allsport


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