The Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) was an indoor football league based along the Midwestern United States region that played nine seasons from 2006 to 2014. It began play in April 2006 as the Great Lakes Indoor Football League (GLIFL). It was formed by Jeff Spitaleri, his brother Eric, and a third member, Cory Trapp, all from the Canton, Ohio area.
The league was originally called the Ohio-Penn Indoor Football League, but then executives decided to increase the league's appeal to the entire Great Lakes region. Initially, the league was relatively successful, having a cumulative attendance of over 75,000 in the inaugural regular season. However, the league, like other indoor football associations, was plagued by folding franchises and unenforceable policies throughout its existence. For example, the 2006 champion Port Huron Pirates were found to have been paying some of their players over the league salary cap. 2007 saw several teams fold during the season, and during the 2008 season, the league's most successful team, the Rochester Raiders, moved to another league due to frustration over the failure of the league to provide notice of an opponent's forfeiture, resulting in lost ticket and advertising revenue. The league also failed to return the Raiders' owners' emergency fund deposit, which was collected specifically to protect against such occurrences.
The CIFL is among several indoor football leagues that maintained a mostly regional operation, with most of its teams clustered in the Midwestern United States. Teams went back and forth between the CIFL and the other regional leagues, as well as the Indoor Football League (a national league of similar caliber), over the course of the league's history. Prior to its disbanding, the CIFL claimed itself to be the longest continually operating current indoor football league in the United States, noting that older leagues such as the Arena Football League and American Indoor Football had suspended operations at least once since the CIFL's founding.
In July 2012, the CIFL changed ownership for the first time in its history, when Jeff Spitaleri sold the CIFL to Indoor Football Incorporated, which included Rob Licht, Jim O'Brien and Stuart Schweigert. The group also owned the Saginaw Sting. The new ownership of the league sought to help current teams brand their product better, as well as look to expand the league, but its primary goal was to have competitive franchises.
|Continental Indoor Football League|
|Most recent season or competition:|
2014 Continental Indoor Football League season
Continental Indoor Football League logo
|Formerly||Ohio-Penn Indoor Football League|
Great Lakes Indoor Football League
|Erie Explosion (2nd title)|
|Most titles||Cincinnati Commandos|
Saginaw Sting (2 titles)
All Night Affair
Divine Web Dezine
|Supreme Indoor Football|
Indoor Football Alliance
Indoor Football League
Professional Indoor Football League
The Great Lakes Indoor Football League was founded in 2005 by brothers Eric and Jeff Spitaleri and their friend Cory Trapp. The league's first franchise accepted was the Lehigh Valley Outlawz, who joined in late June, 2005. During the league's first season, it cost a new owner a $15,000 franchising fee, with a capped salary of $5,400 per team, per week, with no player earning more than $300 per game. While trying to attract teams, the league agreed to arena contracts before securing owners in efforts to attract owners in those specific market areas. They reached agreements with markets in Danville, Illinois, Battle Creek, Michigan, Rochester, New York, Port Huron, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio and Marion, Ohio. Of those markets, the league was able to sell ownership to four of them. In December, it was finalized that the league would begin with six teams in their inaugural season, with teach team playing a 10-game season over a 12-week span. On April 7, 2006, the league held its first ever games with the Battle Creek Crunch hosting the Port Huron Pirates and the Rochester Raiders hosting the New York/New Jersey Revolution. The Crunch were defeated 62-22 by the Pirates, and the Raiders defeating the Revolution 71-13. The league's first ever playoff format was a 4-team set up with the #1 seed hosting the #4 seed, and the #2 seed hosting the #3 seed. The semifinals featured a pair of blowout games, with Port Huron and Rochester advancing to Great Lakes Bowl I, which was to be played at McMorran Arena as Port Huron was the #1 seed on July 22. The Pirates were able shut down the Raiders' offense for most of the second half earning a 40-34 victory for the Port Huron, thus completing the first ever undefeated season in league history. At the conclusion of the first season, the league also put together an All-Star Game at Stabler Arena, where they split up three teams each for an East vs. West matchup. The West dominated, with a roster full of Port Huron's championship team.
The league suspended operations in October 2014, when the league's five remaining teams, the champion Erie Explosion, the Saginaw Sting, Marion Blue Racers, Chicago Blitz and Northern Kentucky River Monsters, either suspended operations or joined other leagues. Shortly thereafter, the league Web site redirected to American Indoor Football's. On August 23, 2015, it was announced that the CIFL would return for the 2016 season (playing an interlocking schedule with another proposed league, Supreme Indoor Football, as part of the Indoor Football Alliance) and the Explosion, Sting and Blue Racers will return to the CIFL as a result. However, the league effectively disbanded again later that fall after no other teams agreed to join the revived league; the Blue Racers and Sting joined American Indoor Football, and the Explosion eventually announced they would not play in 2016.
Field Size – 50 yards long by 25 yards wide, with end zones a minimum of 5 yards in depth. Fields may vary in size due to physical constraints within facility, with CIFL permission. End zones may be rounded due to hockey board configurations. Padded dasher board walls around the entire field that act as an extension of the ground (only "out of bounds" if contact made by opposing player that forces player into the dasher wall, much like a 'down by contact' rule).
Goal Posts – Goal posts are 12 feet (3.7 m) from the floor to the crossbar. The crossbar is 10 feet (3.0 m) in width. Anything used to hang the goalpost is considered a part of the upright.
Number Of Players – Eight players per team on the field at one time. Starting in 2013 teams will be allowed to expand their active roster from 19 players up to 21 this year and are being required to carry a backup Quarterback and Kicker. In the league's earliest seasons, the GLIFL/CIFL played with only seven players on each side, one less than the standard eight used in other football leagues.
Playing Time – Four 15-minute quarters with a running clock. Clock only stops for incomplete passes and out of bounds plays during the final minute of the second and fourth quarters. 25-second play clock.
Scoring – 6 points for TD, 2 points for run or pass conversion, or drop kick PAT, 1 point for place kick PAT, 2 points for defensive conversion following TD, 2 points for safety. 3 points for a field goal, 4 points for a drop kick field goal. Teams will score a single point on their kickoff if the ball makes its way through the uprights.
Backfield in Motion – One player may be in motion in any direction behind the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.
Offensive Linemen – Three linemen must be in a three- or four-point stance prior to the snap. They must line up guard, center, guard and next to one another. Any offensive lineman not covered up by the fourth man on the line of scrimmage is an eligible receiver if he is wearing an eligible receiver number (1-49, 80-89).
Defensive Linemen – There must be three defensive linemen, and they must line up on the nose, or can line up inside foot-to-outside foot outside of an offensive lineman. Linemen must rush inside if nose up or slanted into if shaded, and they must make contact before any movement to the outside is made.
Blitzing – Only one non-lineman can blitz at a time. This player can blitz from any direction, but must be at least five yards off the line of scrimmage/goal line prior to the snap. Players do not have to announce their eligibility to blitz. Defensive Backs are not allowed to blitz
Linebackers – At least two defensive players must line up at least 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The other two non-linemen must either line up face-to-face with an offensive non-lineman on the line, or be five yards behind the line of scrimmage. After the snap, this rule is eliminated and the players can roam anywhere they wish, provided it doesn't violate blitzing rules. Linebackers can line up at the goal line if the offense is within five yards of scoring.
Kickoffs – If a kickoff leaves the field of play on the fly, the ball comes out to the 25-yard line. The sideline walls and end zone walls are not out of bounds, and balls can be played off of them. If a kickoff leaves the field of play after making contact with the field or a player on either team, the ball comes out to the 5-yard line, or the point in which it leaves the field of play, whichever is closest to the kicking team's goal line.
Offense – No punting. Offense must attempt to gain a first down or touchdown, or may attempt a field goal (by placement or drop kick).
Coaches – Starting in 2013 coaches will be permitted to coach on the field again, which will improve communication between them and their players
Overtime – Overtime is played with NCAA-style rules (each team gets one possession), but each possession is started with a kickoff rather than at the 25-yard line. Teams must go for a two-point conversion (by scrimmage play) starting with the third overtime session.
Co-ed play – Two female placekickers, Katie Hnida and Julie Harshbarger, have played for the CIFL. Excluding all-female leagues, the CIFL is one of only three professional football leagues (the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1970, the Indoor Football League in 2014) to have hired female players; the CIFL is the only league to have hired more than one, and the only one to have allowed its female players to score points.
Since 2013, the CIFL season features the following schedule:
Traditionally, American high school football games are played on Friday nights, American college football games are played on Thursday nights and Saturdays, and most NFL games are played on Sunday. Because the CIFL season is played at a different season than the high school, college and NFL seasons, the CIFL schedules Friday, Saturday, Sunday and (new for 2013) Monday games.
During mini-camps in the winter, CIFL teams typically play one-to-two exhibition games from early January through early February. Each team is free to schedule these games, but all games must be approved by the league. No games are allowed within one week of the team's first regular season game. The games are useful for new players who are not used to playing indoor football.
Following the preseason, each of the ten teams embark on an twelve-week, ten-game schedule, with the extra weeks consisting of a bye to allow teams a rest sometime in the middle of the season. According to the current scheduling structure, the league schedule will be designed to minimize travel costs and create games that maximize the competitive advantages of each game as possible. Failure to provide the appropriate number of dates to the league office will have a significant outcome on the type of schedule a team receives. The league would like to release the schedule by October 1 of each year.
The league had been using a scheduling formula to pre-determine which teams plays whom during a given season. Under the formula since 2010, each of the six teams' respective 10-game schedule consists for the following:
This format has been tweaked due to a travel team being in the year since 2009. The current rule reads:
This allows for travel teams to play all their games on the road, and gives every team in the league an extra home game for each travel team in the league.
Although this scheduling formula determines each of the ten teams' respective opponents, the league usually does not release the final regular schedule with specific dates and times until the winter; the CIFL needs several months to coordinate the entire season schedule so that, among other reasons, games are worked around various scheduling conflicts.
The CIFL has gone through many numbers of teams, so the playoff format has changed several times throughout the years. In the league's first season, 2006, the playoff format featured a 1-4 seed based on their W-L-T records. The one seed hosted the four seed, and the two seed hosted the three seed. The winners advanced to the Great Lakes Bowl I, and the highest remaining seed hosted. Due to expansion in 2007, the playoff format was expanded to eight teams making the playoffs. The top team in each division would clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The rest are Wild Card teams that are seeded second through fourth. From that point the matchups would remain the same as the previous year, with the exception that the winners of each divisional playoff would meet in the CIFL Championship Game. In 2009, the league returned to its original format of a four-team playoff. This stayed in place until 2012, when the league decided to just have the regular season first and second seeds meet for the Championship.
|2006||Port Huron Pirates||Rochester Raiders||40-34|
|2007||Rochester Raiders||Port Huron Pirates||37-27|
|2008||Saginaw Sting||Kalamazoo Xplosion||41-37|
|2009||Chicago Slaughter||Fort Wayne Freedom||58-48|
|2010||Cincinnati Commandos||Wisconsin Wolfpack||54-40|
|2011||Cincinnati Commandos||Marion Blue Racers||44–29|
|2012||Saginaw Sting||Dayton Silverbacks||35-7|
|2013||Erie Explosion||Saginaw Sting||37–36|
|2014||Erie Explosion||Marion Blue Racers||38–26|
The league put on an All-Star game once, in its inaugural 2006 season.
In its early years, the CIFL was a very unstable and somewhat informal organization. Many teams entered and left the league annually, with the worst instance of teams exiting occurring when the new Indoor Football League was formed and the league lost five teams. The league fielded at least six teams in each year of its existence, gaining and losing teams each year from both expansion and teams shifting leagues.
The Saginaw Sting was the franchise with the most time in the league; they completed their fourth season at the end of 2014. The Erie Explosion was the league's oldest team; it has been in operation since 2007 and joined the league in 2013. It was speculated that there would be a potential for a merger with the American Professional Football League in 2013, but this never came to fruition; likewise, a proposal to form an Indoor Football Alliance between three former CIFL teams and an upstart "Supreme Indoor Football" league for 2016 also collapsed.
|Year||# of teams||Expansion teams||Folded teams||Suspended teams||Moved teams||Relocated teams||Name changes|
|2006||6||Battle Creek Crunch
Lehigh Valley Outlawz
New York/New Jersey Revolution
Port Huron Pirates
Miami Valley Silverbacks1
New England Surge
Summit County Rumble3
|Battle Creek Crunch||Motor City Reapers||Port Huron Pirates → Michigan Pirates|
Fort Wayne Freedom
Rock River Raptors
Summit County Rumble
Lehigh Valley Outlawz
New England Surge
West Virginia Wild
New Jersey Revolution4
Fort Wayne FireHawks
|Fort Wayne Freedom
Rock River Raptors
|Chicago Slaughter2||Milwaukee Bonecrushers → Chicago Cardinals|
Marion Blue Racers
Port Huron Predators
|Marion Mayhem||Fort Wayne FireHawks
|Chicago Cardinals → Chicago Knights|
Miami Valley Silverbacks → Dayton Silverbacks
Port Huron Patriots
Port Huron Predators
Marion Blue Racers5
Kane County Dawgs
Marion Blue Racers6
|Cincinnati Commandos6||Evansville Rage → Owensboro Rage|
Northern Kentucky River Monsters
|Kane County Dawgs
|2015 suspension||0||Bluegrass Warhorses
Port Huron Patriots
Northern Kentucky River Monsters
Marion Blue Racers7
The league does not have its television rights sold to a network, such as the Arena Football League with the CBS Sports Network. Individual teams are free to work out deals with their local affiliates to broadcast their games.
Each CIFL team usually works out its own radio network deal with local stations, and the stations employ its announcers. Nationally, the CIFL is heard on the CIFL Radio Network, which can be used online via the CIFL GameCenter on the league's website.
In 2010, the CIFL introduced the CIFL GameCenter which allows statisticians wired to into the CIFL Network. As they use the stat software to record the game, it is updated live in the GameCenter.
Base player salaries must be no less than $50 per game and no more than $200 per game. There are no win bonuses since the 2010 season, as agreed at the owner meetings.
For the 2010 season, the weekly team salary cap was $3,000 per week. Any team in violation of the salary cap will be fined and could have either players suspended for the season or forfeiture of games in which they violated the cap. Since then, the league has changed to a weekly salary cap of $2,500 per week, with every player making anywhere from 50 to 200 dollars in a single game.
The 2007 Continental Indoor Football League season was the league's second season. The league champions were the Rochester Raiders, who defeated the Michigan Pirates in the CIFL Indoor Championship Game.2008 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2008 Continental Indoor Football League season is the league's third overall season. The season began on Friday, March 7, and ended on Sunday, June 29th, with the CIFL Championship Game.2009 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2009 Continental Indoor Football League season was the league's fourth overall season. The regular season began on Friday, March 6. The league champion was the Chicago Slaughter.2010 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2010 Continental Indoor Football League season was the league's fifth overall season. The regular season started on Saturday March 13 with the expansion Cincinnati Commandos defeating the Miami Valley Silverbacks 38-32, and ended with the 2010 CIFL Championship Game, on June 26, 2010, at the Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio where the Commandos defeated the Wisconsin Wolfpack 54-40.
In 2010, the league saw its size shrink again. This time it was from 8 teams to 6 teams, as Fort Wayne Freedom, Rock River Raptors and the Wheeling Wildcats folded following the 2009 season, and the Chicago Slaughter departed the league to join the Indoor Football League. The CIFL awarded the Cincinnati Commandos and Fort Wayne FireHawks expansion franchises, and the Milwaukee Bonecrushers moved to Chicago and became the Cardinals.
On May 26, 2010, it was announced that the Marion Mayhem ceased operations immediately. This made the league finish with only 5 teams, with the top 4 still making the playoffs.2011 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2011 Continental Indoor Football League season was the league's sixth overall season. The regular season started on Saturday, February 26, with the expansion Port Huron Predators defeating the expansion Indianapolis Enforcers 69-12, and ended with the 2011 CIFL Championship Game on June 11, 2011, at the Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Cincinnati Commandos defeated the Marion Blue Racers 44-29 to clinch their second consecutive CIFL Championship.
In 2011, the league saw its size stay the same for the first time. There were changes to the teams that made up the 6 teams, as Fort Wayne FireHawks, Marion Mayhem and the Wisconsin Wolfpack folded following the 2010 season, and the Chicago Cardinals changed their name to the Chicago Knights, and the Miami Valley Silverbacks established a home arena in Dayton, Ohio and changed their names to the Dayton Silverbacks. The CIFL awarded the Indianapolis Enforcers, the Marion Blue Racers and the Port Huron Predators expansion franchises.
On April 29, 2011 it was announced that the Port Huron Predators would ceased operations immediately. This made the league finish with 5 teams for a second consecutive season.2012 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2012 Continental Indoor Football League season was the Continental Indoor Football League's seventh overall season. The regular season started on Saturday March 10, with the expansion Port Huron Patriots defeating the expansion Chicago Vipers 52–49 at McMorran Arena, and ended with the 2012 CIFL Championship Game, the league's championship game, on June 2, 2012, at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan where the Saginaw Sting defeated the Dayton Silverbacks 35–7.2013 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2013 Continental Indoor Football League season will be the Continental Indoor Football League's eighth overall season. The regular season will start on Friday February 8, with the Marion Blue Racers visiting the Saginaw Sting at the Dow Event Center, and will end with the 2013 CIFL Championship Game, the league's championship game being held on, or around, May 18. The league approved the expansion of the playoff format from four teams to six teams (with the top two teams receiving byes).2014 Continental Indoor Football League season
The 2014 Continental Indoor Football League season was the Continental Indoor Football League's ninth overall season. The regular season started on Monday February 3, with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters visiting the Bluegrass Warhorses at the Alltech Arena, and ended with the 2014 CIFL Championship Game, the league's championship game held on May 18.
The Erie Explosion successfully defended their championship from the previous year with a win over the Marion Blue Racers in the championship.Chicago Knights
The Chicago Knights were a professional indoor football team based in Loves Park, Illinois. The Knights were founded in 2010 as a member of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL), playing their home games at the Victory Sports Complex.
The Knights were the third Indoor Football Team based in Northern Illinois. The Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League were based in Rosemont, and the Chicago Slaughter of the Indoor Football League are based in Hoffman Estates. The Knights replaced the Chicago Cardinals as the Illinois-based CIFL team, which had replaced the Slaughter after they left for the Indoor Football League after a dispute with CIFL management.Cincinnati Commandos
The Cincinnati Commandos were a professional indoor football team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The team suspended operations for the 2013 season, with hope of returning in 2014. They began play in 2010 as an expansion team in the Continental Indoor Football League before moving to the United Indoor Football League in 2012. The Commandos then left the UIFL after winning Ultimate Bowl II and re-joined the CIFL, but never took the field after its announcement. The Commandos were the fifth arena or indoor football in Cincinnati, after the Cincinnati Rockers (Arena Football League 1992–93), Cincinnati Swarm (af2 2003), Cincinnati Marshals (National Indoor Football League 2004–2006), and Cincinnati Jungle Kats (af2 2007). The owners of the Commandos are Dennis Whitman and Paul Napier. The Commandos played their home games at Cincinnati Gardens.Detroit Thunder
The Detroit Thunder was a professional indoor football team based in Fraser, Michigan. The team was a member of the Continental Indoor Football League. The Thunder were the third indoor football team to have called the Motor City home, following two Arena Football League teams: the four-time ArenaBowl champion Detroit Drive (1988 Arena Football League season-1993) and the Detroit Fury (2001 Arena Football League season-2004 Arena Football League season). In addition, a team called the Motor City Reapers was proposed for the 2007 CIFL season, but the team folded before ever playing a single game. The Thunder were owned by Terrence and Lawrence Foster.Kalamazoo Xplosion
The Kalamazoo Xplosion was an indoor football team based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Xplosion began play in 2007 expansion team of the Continental Indoor Football League. They played their home games at Wings Stadium.Kentucky Xtreme
The Kentucky Xtreme were a professional indoor football team based in Louisville, Kentucky, which had its operations suspended by the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL) midway through the 2014 CIFL season. The team was a member of the South Division of the CIFL after starting in 2013 as an expansion team. The Xtreme were the first indoor football team in the Louisville area since the Louisville Fire, a member of af2, folded in 2008. The co-owners of the Xtreme are Victor Cole and Mario Urrutia. The Xtreme played their home games at Freedom Hall in Louisville, but was suspended by the league when Urrutia abandoned the team to join the Winnipeg Blue Bombers midseason.Port Huron Predators
The Port Huron Predators were a professional Indoor Football team based in Port Huron, Michigan. The team was a member of the Continental Indoor Football League (CIFL). The Predators joined the CIFL in 2011 as an expansion team. The Predators were the second indoor football team to be based in Port Huron, the first being CIFL charter members and inaugural champions the Port Huron Pirates (2006–2007). The Owner of the Predators was Rachel Brusate. The Predators played their home games at the McMorran Arena.Rock River Raptors
This page is for the Continental Indoor Football League team, for the National Premier Soccer League team also based in Rockford, see Rockford Raptors.
The Rock River Raptors were a professional indoor football team based in Rockford, Illinois. The team was most recently a member of the Continental Indoor Football League. The franchise was established in 2000 as the Tennessee Valley Vipers, a charter member of af2. The franchise was based at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2005, the franchise moved to United Indoor Football as the Tennessee Valley Raptors, to accommodate the Vipers' af2 return to Huntsville, as which point the team owner Art Clarkson announced that the franchise would relocate to Rockford. Coincidentally, Rockford was the site of the first-ever Arena Football game in 1986. The Owner of the Raptors was Art Clarkson. The Raptors played their home games at Rockford MetroCentre in Rockford, Illinois.Steubenville Stampede
The Steubenville Stampede was an indoor football franchise, most recently a member of the Continental Indoor Football League. They played their home games at the St. John Arena in Steubenville, Ohio, United States.West Michigan ThunderHawks
The West Michigan ThunderHawks were an indoor football team based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The team was most recently a member of the Indoor Football League. From their inception in 2007 until 2009, the ThunderHawks were known as the Muskegon Thunder and played at L.C. Walker Arena (in their first two seasons they played in the Continental Indoor Football League). In 2010, the team moved to Grand Rapids, MI. This is where the downfall of the team took place. The season started off hopeful with a 5–2 record. After week 7 the players were promised money at a later date as long as they played (money that they never received). Starting in 2010 the ThunderHawks played their home games at the DeltaPlex Arena, in nearby Walker, Michigan. The Thunderhawks did not field a team in 2011.West Virginia Wild
The West Virginia Wild were a proposed professional indoor football team based in Huntington, West Virginia. The team was slated to become a member of the Continental Indoor Football League as an expansion team in 2009. The Wild were the third attempt at indoor football in Huntington, the first being the American Indoor Football League member, the Huntington Heroes from 2006 to 2008, and the second being the River Cities LocoMotives of the National Indoor Football League in 2001. They were suspended from the CIFL indefinitely for failing to turn in key items before the deadline. The Owner of the Wild was Dan Hicks. The team was to play its home games at the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse.Wisconsin Wolfpack
The Wisconsin Wolfpack was an American football franchise based in Wisconsin. The Wolfpack name and brand was used for two teams: an indoor football team in the Continental Indoor Football League and a traditional (outdoor) football team in the Mid Continental Football League.
The indoor team played its home games at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Madison, Wisconsin in its inaugural season of 2009, but moved to the Hartmeyer Arena for the 2010 season. The outdoor team was somewhat nomadic throughout its history with regards to where it played its home games, however, outdoor games were generally played in the Milwaukee metropolitan area.
Continental Indoor Football League
Continental Indoor Football League seasons
Professional gridiron football leagues in North America