By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Arena Football League will have a new commissioner after former commissioner C. David Baker surprisingly resigned on Friday. His resignation came just two days before the ArenaBowl championship game.
Baker told the league’s Board of Directors that he was stepping down. He was on the job for the past 12-years. He told the Board members that it “was time” to leave – just a year after signing an extension last year.
With Baker at the helm, the league was profitable. It even entered into a partnership with ESPN, who has an ownership stake in the league. In addition, according to reports, the attendance, TV ratings and merchandise sales were all up over the past year.
As Baker exits, Ed Policy will be his successor on an interim basis. Policy was his Deputy Commissioner, and a committee is expected to search for his replacement.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Baker said. “I’ve never thought I would do this for the rest of my life. The league has never been stronger… it gives me the opportunity to look into doing other things.”
The league currently has 17 teams, and there have been 17 expansion teams under his tenure, as well. However, of the 17 expansion teams, some have either relocated or folded. Baker has said that he believes the team could increase to 32 teams, which would be the size of the NFL right now.
With the success of the AFL, there was talk about having an exhibition game in Germany in December. However, that did not happen.
“There’s a lot of great opportunities for this league,” Baker added. “So this is a good time for me. If I didn’t go now, there would be no other career for David Baker.
“Like my good friend John Elway, I am going out on top.”
Elway has a part-ownership stake in the Colorado Crush. Jon Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski are co-owners of the Philadelphia Soul, while Mike Ditka has an ownership state in the Chicago Rush.
The Soul is reportedly valued at $32 million, while expansion teams are going for $20 million, according to Baker. When he started as the AFL commissioner, the league was valued at just $300,000 – and it’s valued at way more than that now.
According to ESPN, the league’s TV ratings were up 58 percent during the playoffs. That may stay the same, or increase as the Soul take on the San Jose SaberCats for the ArenaBowl Championship.
“When I took over as commissioner, I thought it would be for one year,” Baker mentioned. “It turned into 12, but now it’s time.”
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