TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment announced today that it has elected to suspend operations of the Tampa Bay Storm effective immediately.
"We have informed League Commissioner Scott Butera, and the remaining members of the Arena Football League, that we will not operate a franchise in 2018," said Steve Griggs, Chief Executive Officer of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. "This was not an easy decision, but after deep consideration, evaluation and introspection, we have elected to reallocate the resources dedicated to arena football for other uses within our organization, including the growth of Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties.”
Rising League costs and reduced League revenues forced the organization to re-evaluate the team’s financial situation and its continued operation in a shrinking AFL. Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment understands the importance of the Storm in the Tampa Bay community and the rich history that includes five ArenaBowl Championships. Because of its tradition, history and strong fanbase, the organization will be pleased to explore future opportunities in a stronger, reinvented Arena Football League at the appropriate time.
“We are eternally grateful to the Storm fans, current and former players, our sponsorship partners and the Tampa Bay community for their continued support during the team’s 26 years of operation in Tampa Bay,” said Griggs. “We are proud of the five ArenaBowl Championships they all earned throughout our history.”
The Storm made Tampa Bay its home in 1991 and quickly became one of the most dominant teams in Arena Football League history, setting League records in attendance, wins and championships. Prior to the start of the 2011 season, the team was purchased by Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Derrick Brooks, was named team president shortly thereafter.
“We would like to thank Derrick Brooks and his football operations staff for their hard work and dedication to the Tampa Bay Storm,” said Griggs. “Since joining the organization as team president in 2011, Derrick ran the franchise with pride, integrity and honesty. We are pleased that he will remain with the organization in a new role, making a continued contribution to our businesses.”
The company’s decision to suspend operations will open key dates in the spring and summer of 2018 and Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment will work vigorously in filling those dates at AMALIE Arena with other events, concerts and family shows. The arena is already recognized as one of the busiest in North America from an event standpoint and the newly released dates will provide more opportunity for AMALIE. Additionally, this will enable the organization to continue making new contributions to the community, delivering other exciting opportunities to the people of Tampa Bay.
The Storm will begin working immediately with Commissioner Butera, league staff and the other member clubs on an orderly closure of several business items. Storm season ticket members will be contacted immediately by their membership representatives to discuss options for any monies currently being retained by the organization against season tickets for the 2018 season.