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Arena Football League approves new team for Atlantic City

January 22, 2019

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Arena Football League has approved a new team to play in Atlantic City, and legal sports betting is at least part of the reason for it.

The league announced Tuesday that the expansion team will play in Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. Fans will be asked to help name the team during a public vote.

The seaside gambling resort was seen as particularly attractive for the league now that New Jersey has legalized sports betting, and is one of the country’s fastest-growing markets for it.

“Atlantic City is a great market for the Arena Football League,” said Randall Boe, the league’s commissioner. “The AFL is focused on fan engagement and the integration of sports betting, fantasy and fan (involvement) with our games. Atlantic City is a perfect fit with that strategy and will be a great city for the Arena Football League.”

The deal is subject to the negotiation of a contract between the league and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which gave approval to begin those negotiations Tuesday afternoon.

The team’s operating management group, Trifecta Sports & Entertainment, includes former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, former Eagles and St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil, former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston and former Saints and Green Bay Packers guard Jahri Evans.

The group also owns Arena League franchises in Philadelphia and Albany.

The league plans to have six teams when its season starts in April. It now has five.

Despite millions of visitors who come to gamble in its casinos, Atlantic City has struggled to support professional sports franchises in the past.

The independent minor league baseball team the Atlantic City Surf operated from 1998 to 2008 before folding. The Boardwalk Bullies of the East Coast Hockey League played in Boardwalk Hall from 2001 to 2005 before relocating to Stockton, California. And the Atlantic City Seagulls played in the now defunct East Coast Basketball League from 1996 to 2001.

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