The Indoor Football League (IFL) began in 1999 as an offshoot of the troubled Professional Indoor Football League. Keary Ecklund, the owner of the Green Bay Bombers and Madison Mad Dogs, left the PIFL after its first, financially troubled, season to start his own league. Unlike the PIFL, the IFL was an "entity league"; teams were owned by the league and franchised out to management groups. NFL Hall-of-Famer Kellen Winslow was brought in as commissioner. The league was successful enough for a major expansion in 2000. Expansion was done regionally to cut down on travel expenses. Hence, the majority of the teams were in the Midwest. Their championship game was known as the Gold Cup.
Midway through the 2000 season, the Topeka Knights changed management and nicknames and became the Kings. After the season, the entire league was purchased by the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators. Two teams, the Lincoln Lightning and Peoria Pirates, as well as many players, became a part of their developmental ("farm") league, the AF2. The Wichita Warlords were rebranded the Wichita Stealth. Other teams resurfaced with new names in the Indoor Professional Football League (which consisted of the remnants of the PIFL that Ecklund left in 1999) and the National Indoor Football League.
|Indoor Football League|
|Motto||Wall to Wall War|
|No. of teams||13|
|Green Bay Bombers (1999)|
Peoria Pirates (2000)
1. y-Peoria Pirates, 11-1
2. x-Green Bay Bombers, 9-3
3. Madison Mad Dogs, 6-6
4. Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks, 1-11
1. y-Lincoln Lightning, 7-5
2. x-Dayton Skyhawks, 6-6
3. Topeka Knights, 6-6
4. Steel Valley Smash, 2-10
|Semifinals||1999 Gold Cup|
1. z-Peoria Pirates (14-0)
2. x-Green Bay Bombers (10-4)
3. x-Madison Mad Dogs (8-6)
4. Minnesota Purple Rage (5-9)
5. Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks (2-12)
6. La Crosse River Rats (2-12)
1. y-Steel Valley Smash (9-5)
2. x-Erie Invaders (6-8)
3. x-Dayton Skyhawks (6-8)
4. Johnstown Jackals (3-11)
5. Flint Flames (2-12)
1. z-Bismarck Blaze (11-3)
2. x-Black Hills Machine (10-4)
3. x-Casper Cavalry (9-5)
4. Billings Thunderbolts (8-6)
5. Fargo Freeze (1-13)
1. y-Topeka Knights/Kings (10-4)
2. x-Lincoln Lightning (10-4)
3. x-Sioux City Attack (9-5)
4. Sioux Falls Cobras (8-6)
5. Wichita Warlords (4-10)
|Rapid City, South Dakota||Topeka, Kansas|
|3||Black Hills||75||Bismarck, North Dakota|
|Bismarck, North Dakota|
|5||Sioux City||52||Western Conference Championship|
|Wild card playoffs|
|Wheeling, West Virginia|
|6||Dayton||23||2000 Gold Cup|
|3||Green Bay||64||Peoria, Illinois|
|Madison, Wisconsin||2||Steel Valley||55|
|5||Erie||22||Eastern Conference Championship|
The Bismarck Blaze were a professional indoor American football team based in Bismarck, North Dakota. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1999 and began play in 2000. They competed in the Northern Division of the Western Conference.Dayton Skyhawks
The Dayton Skyhawks were a professional indoor American football team based in Dayton, Ohio. They were a charter member of the original Indoor Football League in 1999.
They lasted both of the league's two seasons and folded when the league disbanded. Earnest Wilson was the Skyhawk's first head coach and general manager. Chris MacKeown coached the team during the 2000 season.Dayton Wolfpack
The Dayton Wolfpack were a professional indoor football team and a charter member of the National Arena League (NAL) in its inaugural 2017 season. Originally to be based in Dayton, Ohio, the Wolfpack had announced their home venue as the Nutter Center but apparently failed to reach a lease agreement. The Wolfpack were then listed as a traveling team by the NAL.
The Wolfpack would have been the sixth indoor football team to call Dayton home, following the Dayton Skyhawks of the original Indoor Football League (1999–2000), the Dayton Warbirds/Bulldogs of the National Indoor Football League (2005–2006), The Marshals also of the NIFL (2007), the Dayton Silverbacks of the Continental Indoor Football League (2011–2012) and finally the Dayton Sharks also of the CIFL (2013–2014).Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks
The Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks were a professional indoor American football team based in Duluth, Minnesota. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1998 and began play in 1999. They competed in the Northern Division of the Eastern Conference.Erie Invaders
The Erie Invaders were a professional indoor American football team based in Erie, Pennsylvania. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1999 and began play in 2000 at Louis J. Tullio Arena in Erie. They competed in the Southern Division of the Eastern Conference. They were coached by Gary Tufford. After a 6-8 season and a defeat in the playoffs, the franchise folded due to financial reasons.Fargo Freeze
The Fargo Freeze were a professional indoor American football team based in Fargo, North Dakota. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1999 and began play in 2000. They competed in the Northern Division of the Western Conference.Flint Flames
The Flint Flames were a professional indoor American football team based in Flint, Michigan. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1999 and began play in 2000. They competed in the Southern Division of the Eastern Conference and played their home games at the Perani Arena and Event Center.Green Bay Bombers
The Green Bay Bombers was an indoor football team that played in the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) in 1998, and in the Indoor Football League (IFL) in 1999 and 2000. The Bombers franchise was owned by Keary Ecklund. The team office was based in Neenah, Wisconsin, and played their games at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena. The Bombers were coached by Mario Russo for the 1998 PIFL season and part of the 1999 IFL season and by Bud Keyes for the remainder of the 1999 and 2000 IFL seasons.Johnstown Jackals
The Johnstown Jackals were a professional indoor American football team based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1999 and began play in 2000. They competed in the Southern Division of the Eastern Conference and played their home games at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. They were the first of two teams that would play in Johnstown. The second were the Johnstown Riverhawks of the American Indoor Football Association (formerly the Topeka Knights/Kings of the IFL).Johnstown Riverhawks
The Johnstown Riverhawks was a professional indoor American football team based out of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. They were a charter member of the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA). They played their home games at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.La Crosse River Rats
The La Crosse River Rats were an indoor football team based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. They were members of the original Indoor Football League (IFL) and played their home games at the La Crosse Center.Lincoln Capitols
The Lincoln Capitols were a professional indoor football team that played their home games at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States. They originally planned on becoming the Nebraska Knockout, but the name was scrapped. From 1999 to 2000, they were the Lincoln Lightning of the original Indoor Football League before the IFL was bought out. The Lightning then played in the Arena Football's farm league during the 2001 season, before leaving the league and joining the National Indoor Football League as the Capitols. During their four-year run, the franchise's most prominent player was a former Nebraska Cornhusker running back named Damon Benning and the franchise's owner was Andrew Cheesman. In 2005 through 2006 they had 2 standout players, Nate Jacks from Atlanta, Ga, a graduate from Clinton High School and Mike Carrawell from St. Louis, MO. The two was a combo with Coach Chris Simpson, who brought the two kick returners in to play two roles. Mike was an All-American slot receiver from Quincy University and Nate was a shutdown corner back from KU.
This team in Lincoln has been a pushover for most of the team's history, despite being successful in the regular season. They are the only team to lose in two shutouts, a rarity in the NIFL
The league, hoping to kill off their APFL competition and make the Capitols better, talked with the St. Joseph Explorers of the APFL and interested them in merging with the Lincoln Capitols and becoming the St. Joseph Storm. The team was still bad and was later bought by the league and made a traveling team. The end result was prospective owners saw NIFL as a league to avoid which was a major factor in the league's problems in 2007.Madison Mad Dogs
The Madison Mad Dogs were an indoor football team that played in the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) in 1998, and in the Indoor Football League (IFL) in 1999 & 2000. The Mad Dogs franchise was owned by Keary Ecklund. The team office was based in Madison, Wisconsin, and played their games at the Dane County Coliseum, now Veterans Memorial Coliseum, at the Alliant Energy Center. The team colors were: Red, Silver, and Black. The Mad Dogs were coached by Richard "Dick" Adams for the '98 PIFL season.
The Mad Dogs played four preseason PIFL games in '98. Winning only once:
February 18 – Madison Mad Dogs 22 at Green Bay Bombers 64
February 23 – Green Bay Bombers 45 at Madison Mad Dogs 39
March 19 – Colorado Wildcats 20 at Madison Mad Dogs 27
March 28 – Madison Mad Dogs 29 at Minnesota Monsters 33The Madison Mad Dogs tied with their sister team, Green Bay Bombers – both teams owned by Ecklund, for the second best record in the PIFL with a 10-4 record. In the playoffs, the Mad Dogs hosted the Bombers in the first round. They won 46-19.
Keary Ecklund took his Bombers and Mad Dogs teams and defected from the PIFL to form the IFL. In 1999, the team, finished 6-6 in the Northern Division of the IFL.
The following year was very similar, but finalized with a couple of playoff games. The Mad Dogs finished 8-6 in the Northern Division of the IFL. Then, Madison faced Erie at home in the first round of the IFL playoffs. Defeating them 34-22 and advancing to the second round at Peoria. Peoria was too much for the Mad Dogs, as they lost 13-25 and out of the IFL playoffs. When the IFL was sold, following the 2000 season, the Mad Dogs disappeared.Minnesota Purple Rage
The Minnesota Purple Rage were a professional indoor American football team based in Mankato, Minnesota. They were members of the original Indoor Football League founded in 1999 and began play in 2000. They competed in the Southern Division of the Eastern Conference and played their home games at the Verizon Center.Ohio Valley Greyhounds
The Ohio Valley Greyhounds were a professional indoor football team. They began play in 1999 as the Steel Valley Smash, a charter member of the IFL. After the league folded, they moved to the NIFL, became a charter member, and renamed themselves as the Ohio Valley Greyhounds. After four successful years in the league, they moved to the UIF in 2005 and became a charter member to the new league. However, the Greyhounds failed to reach the same level of success from the NIFL years. Their home games were played at the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia, which is also the home to the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers. After three dismal years in the UIF, the team folded in October 2007.Peoria Pirates
The Peoria Pirates were a professional arena football team that last played in AF2, the minor league to the Arena Football League (AFL). They played their home games at Carver Arena, part of the Peoria Civic Center in Illinois, and were coached by Mike Hohensee and Bruce Cowdrey. The Pirates originally began play as a charter member of the original Indoor Football League in 1999.
In their existence, the Pirates played in the Indoor Football League (IFL), AF2 (twice), and United Indoor Football (UIF). They also won the 2000 IFL Championship. They were also, while in the UIF, known as the Peoria Rough Riders.Rapid City Flying Aces
The Rapid City Flying Aces were a professional indoor American football team in Rapid City, South Dakota. Like their predecessors, the Black Hills Red Dogs, they played their home games at the Don Barnett Arena in Rapid City. As of April 2007, the Flying Aces did not belong to any football league. The team was affiliated with the original Indoor Football League in 2000; with the National Indoor Football League from 2001 to 2004 and in 2006; and with United Indoor Football in 2005. The team considered rejoining United Indoor Football in 2008.
The Flying Aces won at least 10 out of 14 games three times in their seven seasons; however, organizational turmoil threatened the existence of the franchise.Sioux City Bandits
The Sioux City Bandits are a professional indoor football team based in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bandits compete in Champions Indoor Football (CIF) as a member of the league's North Conference. The team was founded in 1999 as the Sioux City Attack. In 2001, the team assumed their current name of the Bandits. The Bandits joined the CIF as result of the merger in 2014. The Bandits play their home games at the Tyson Events Center.Wichita Stealth
The Wichita Stealth was an arena football team. They played their home games at the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita, Kansas. They originally began play in the original incarnation of the Indoor Football League as a 2000 expansion team known as the Wichita Warlords before the league folded, in which they moved to the AF2 and became the Stealth. They only got to the playoffs once during their five-year existence, where they had an early exit (courtesy of the Hawaiian Islanders). After an 8-8 season in 2004, the team officially disbanded and ceased all operations. After Intrust Bank Arena opened, there were rumors that the Stealth might be reincarnated, but the talks died down, and nothing ever surfaced. Now the Wichita Force of Champions Indoor Football, play there.
Professional gridiron football leagues in North America