The Indiana Firebirds were a team in the Arena Football League. The team was based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Home games were played at the Conseco Fieldhouse, also the home of the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association and Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association.
Played in Indianapolis, Indiana at Conseco Fieldhouse
|Arena Football League (1990–2004)|
|Team colors||Black, royal blue, red, burnt orange, gold, white|
|General manager||Joe Hennessy|
|Head coach||Mike Wilpolt|
|League championships (1)|
|Conference championships (0)|
Prior to 2005, the AFL did not have conference championship games
|Division championships (6)|
|Playoff appearances (11)|
|1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002|
Albany Firebirds (1990–2000)Edit
The team was founded in Albany, New York as the Albany Firebirds, and played in Albany from 1990 to 2000. At that time, home games were played at the Knickerbocker Arena (now known as the Times Union Center). The team's original ownership group was headed by Joe O'Hara, owner of the Continental Basketball Association's Albany Patroons, who would later become the AFL's second commissioner. In 2020, he revealed that he originally wanted to call the team the Nighthawks, but league founder Jim Foster wanted that nickname for a future team he planned to own after his tenure as commissioner. After getting off the phone with Foster while in Boston, he happened to see a Pontiac Firebird driving down the highway and decided to go with that name.
The Firebirds were very successful during their tenure in Albany. They won six division titles, made nine playoff appearances, and won the 1999 ArenaBowl championship.
Indiana Firebirds (2001–2004)Edit
On October 19, 2000, the Firebirds announced they would be relocating to Indianapolis. After the move, the Firebirds competed in the Central Division of the AFL's American Conference. The Firebirds were not as successful in Indianapolis as they were in Albany, missing the playoffs twice in four seasons after having made the playoffs in all but two of their first 11 seasons.
The 2004 Firebirds just missed the playoffs after a disappointing 0–5 start. However, they finished the season winning eight of their last eleven games and were considered by some a potential contender for the 2005 Arena Bowl championship led by 2004 Rookie of the Year quarterback Zachary Paget.
However, in early September 2004, Firebirds owner Dave Lageschulte announced that his company, Lags Football LLC, would cease all business operations for the Firebirds. Lageschulte had been actively, but unsuccessfully, pursuing local investors to purchase the Firebirds since he had assumed ownership in 2002.
On September 20, 2004, the date of the announced sales deadline, the Arena Football League announced the termination of the Firebirds franchise and that the players would be made available to continuing AFL teams in a dispersal draft. However, within the week the team was purchased by Scott and Todd Hines, who run H3 Sportsgear, a sportsgear company based in Indianapolis. With AFL approval, it was hoped that the Firebirds could remain operational in Indianapolis. However, this bid floundered due to concerns that the low sale price would devalue the worth of the other 18 franchises. The former Firebirds players were made available in the dispersal draft conducted on October 14, 2004, marking the end of one of the AFL's longest-running franchises.
Resurrection of the Albany Firebirds nameEdit
After the move of the Albany Firebirds AFL franchise to Indiana, an AF2 team called the Albany Conquest took to the field to replace the arena football void left by the departure of the Firebirds. After eight seasons and troubles with fielding a winning team in recent seasons, Conquest owner Walter Robb contemplated shutting down the Conquest franchise. Then, on Friday, October 3, 2008, Robb announced the return of the team for the 2009 season but renamed as the Albany Firebirds in the hopes of "re-branding" the team.
|1991||6||4||0||4th||Lost Week 1 (Detroit 37–35)|
|1992||5||5||0||3rd Northern||Lost Week 1 (Dallas 48–45)|
|1993||5||7||0||5th NC||Lost Week 1 (Tampa Bay 48–34)|
|1994||10||2||0||1st NC||Won Week 1 (Las Vegas 49–30)|
Lost Week 2 (Arizona 40–33)
|1995||7||5||0||1st NC Eastern||Won Week 1 (St. Louis 51–49)|
Lost Week 2 (Tampa Bay 56–49)
|1996||10||4||0||1st NC Eastern||Won Week 1 (Milwaukee 70–58)|
Lost Week 2 (Iowa 62–55)
|1997||6||8||0||3rd NC Eastern||–|
|1998||10||4||0||1st NC Eastern||Lost Week 1 (New Jersey 66–59)|
|1999||11||3||0||1st NC Eastern||Won Week 1 (Grand Rapids 55–45)|
Won Week 2 (Arizona 73–47)
Won ArenaBowl XIII (Orlando 59–48)
|2000||9||5||0||1st NC Eastern||Lost Week 2 (Arizona 53–50)|
|2001||9||5||0||2nd AC Central||Won Week 1 (Carolina 58–41)|
Won Week 2 (Tampa Bay 68–31)
Lost Week 3 (Grand Rapids 83–70)
|2002||7||7||0||3rd AC Central||Lost Week 1 (Dallas 47–46)|
|2003||6||10||0||4th AC Central||–|
|2004||8||8||0||3rd AC Central||–|
Arena Football Hall of FamersEdit
|Albany/Indiana Firebirds Hall of Famers|
|No.||Name||Year Inducted||Position(s)||Years w/ Firebirds|
|–||Mike Dailey||2012||Head Coach||1997–2003|
|–||Mike Hohensee||2012||Head Coach||1994–1996|
The following Firebirds players were named to All-Arena Teams:
- QB Tom Porras (1), Mike Perez (2), Mike Pawlawski (1)
- FB/LB Chad Dukes (2), Leroy Thompson (1)
- WR/DB Reggie Smith (1), Fred Gayles (1), Merv Mosely (2), David McLeod (1), Jay Jones (1), Evan Hlavacek (1)
- WR/LB Fred Gayles (1), Greg Hopkins (2)
- OL/DL Sylvester Bembery (3), Kevin Murphy (1), Jerome Brown (1), Joe Jacobs (3), Jon Krick (1), Chris Snyder (1), Kyle Moore-Brown (1)
- OS/KR Reggie Smith (1)
- OS Eddie Brown (4)
- DS Derek Stingley (1), Cornelius Coe (1)
- K Gary Gussman (1), Franco Grilla (1), Pete Elezovic (1), Clay Rush (1)
The following Firebirds players were named to All-Ironman Teams:
- FB/LB Chad Dukes (1), Rich Young (1)
- WR/DB Evan Hlavacek (1)
- WR/LB Greg Hopkins (2)
- OL/DL Joe Jacobs (2), Chris Snyder (1)
The following Firebirds players were named to All-Rookie Teams:
|Mike Dailey||1997–2003||58||42||0||.580||5||4||Coach of the Year (1999)|
- Singelais, Mark (11 December 2009). "Firebirds won't play 2010 season". Times Union. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- Boggie, Tom (June 9, 1990). "Firebirds Host Commandos In Arena Football Opener". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
- "AFL Rewind: Joe O'Hara". ArenaFan.com. March 9, 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
- "Firebirds move to Indianapolis". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. October 19, 2000. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- "The top 10 of the Double Os". Times Union. 20 December 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- Singelais, Mark (5 February 2011). "Father and son saga at Super Bowl". Times Union. Retrieved 25 May 2013.