Champions Indoor Football (CIF) is a professional indoor American football minor league created in 2014 out of the merger between the Champions Professional Indoor Football League (CPIFL) and Lone Star Football League (LSFL), plus one team from the Indoor Football League and two expansion teams. Players are paid $75 – $300 per game before taxes with no other benefits.
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2022 Champions Indoor Football season
|No. of teams||7 active|
|Salina Liberty (1st)|
|Most titles||Duke City Gladiators (2 titles)|
|Champions Professional Indoor Football League|
Lone Star Football League
The Gary Dawgs, originally announced as a charter member of the CIF, rebranded as the Illiana Eagles (later the Chicago Eagles) after a change in ownership and delayed their entry into the league until 2016. On February 21, 2015, the new owners of the New Mexico Stars announced that the team would not enter the league as planned after head coach Dominic Bramante resigned two weeks before the scheduled start of training camp. On March 3, the Albuquerque-based Duke City Gladiators announced they were joining the CIF for the 2015 season and would play an abbreviated 11-game schedule as a partial replacement for the New Mexico Stars. At the end of the regular season, the four teams (ordered by seeding) that made the postseason were the Sioux City Bandits, Texas Revolution, Wichita Force, and Amarillo Venom. On Thursday, June 11, Texas defeated Wichita 39–27. Two days later, Sioux City beat Amarillo 83–52. This pitted Texas against Sioux City in Champions Bowl I on June 20 in Iowa. It was a highly anticipated event in both Siouxland and the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as the number one offense (Sioux City) faced the top defense (Texas). It was a well-fought game, especially at halftime, as the score was tied 35-35. But a rushing touchdown for eventual Champions Bowl MVP Andrew Prohaska and a Rahn Franklin interception sealed the deal for the Bandits as they defeated the "Revs", 76–61 in front of a raucous crowd of 3,757.
The Mesquite Marshals, Salina Liberty, and Bloomington Edge announced their entrance into the league, bringing the total number of teams to 12. The league meetings were on August 19 in Dodge City, Kansas. Many league changes were announced, including Darlene Jones resigning as commissioner, citing personal health-related reasons. Ricky Bertz was then appointed interim commissioner, with the help of Indoor Football League Hall-of-Famer, Tommy Benizio (who was the IFL's commissioner). Stephanie Tucker also joined Bertz and Benizio. Also announced at that time was the Northern/Southern divisional alignment. Later, on January 11, 2016, Bertz stepped down to focus on his team's sales, and Randy Sanders was named the interim commissioner. The updated alignment had each division with six teams. The top three teams reaching the playoffs and the team with the best record in each division received a bye in the first round. The division leader would then play the winners of the 2 vs. 3 seeds playoff game.
At the end of the 2016 season, the Mesquite Marshals changed their name to the Dallas Marshals. Later, the San Angelo Bandits folded but were immediately replaced by an expansion team called the CenTex Cavalry out of Belton, Texas. The CIF continued to expand for the 2017 season by adding the River City Raiders and West Michigan Ironmen from the recently defunct American Indoor Football and two expansion teams in Kansas City Phantoms and Bismarck Bucks. The CIF announced the league would realign from two to four divisions, with two teams each division making the playoffs. In November 2016, the Chicago Eagles announced that they had suspended operations for the 2017 season. Following the Eagles' departure, the River City Raiders left the league, citing the adverse effects on their schedule due to losing a regional opponent, although there had been claims that the Raiders were actually asked to leave due to non-payment of league fees. With the departure of the two teams, the league realigned back into two conferences of seven teams, with four teams per conference making the playoffs.
During the league winter meetings, Bertz returned to his former position of interim league commissioner. Sonny Clark of the Texas Revolution was named as director of operations.
On August 16, 2017, the CIF announced the Quad City Steamwheelers as an expansion team for 2018. On August 30, the league announced the addition of the Sioux Falls Storm from the IFL. The Wichita Falls Nighthawks of the IFL also joined on September 12. On the same day the Nighthawks joined, the Bloomington Edge and West Michigan Ironmen left the CIF for the IFL. The CIF apparently then attempted to sue the IFL, Edge, and Ironmen for leaving the CIF after the two teams had already signed league affiliation agreements with the CIF for 2018. The IFL then threatened to sue the CIF, Storm, and Nighthawks in return despite neither former IFL team signing an affiliation agreement with the IFL for 2018. To avoid disputes, the CIF stated they would not schedule either team. The Storm immediately announced that they would return to the IFL and the Nighthawks had to suspend operations. While the CIF did drop the lawsuit against the IFL, it filed for an injunction against the Edge and Ironmen teams from participating in the IFL for breaking the terms of their signed affiliation agreements. A temporary injunction from participation against the two teams was granted on January 31, 2018.
During the 2018 season, it was announced that after a change in ownership, the West Michigan Ironmen would return to the CIF after playing a season in the semi-professional Midwest Professional Indoor Football. The league also added an expansion team called the Oklahoma Flying Aces in Enid, Oklahoma. During the offseason, the CIF lost the Bismarck Bucks and Quad City Steamwheelers to the IFL. When the 2019 schedule was released, both the West Michigan Ironmen and the Kansas City Phantoms had been removed as members. On May 9, the Texas Revolution folded during the season. At the end of the season, the Duke City Gladiators won their second consecutive championship and then withdrew from the league, eventually joining the IFL.
The league announced it had partnered with the National Arena League (NAL) to create a new league for the 2020 season under a new identity with two conferences: the CIF and NAL. However, it was announced on October 10 that the deal had been postponed, with both leagues playing their own individual schedules in 2020.
For the 2021 season, the league added the Wyoming Mustangs in Gillette, Wyoming, as an expansion team. In August 2020, the CIF announced a schedule, keeping a four-team playoff format but with a 10-game regular season starting March 12, 2021, and that all games in 2021 would be streamed live on YouTube, officially ending the league's four-year relationship with Pluto TV. However, by February 2021, the effects of the pandemic caused the Amarillo Venom and West Texas Warbirds to back out of the season due to a conflicting schedule at their home arena and play an independent regional schedule instead. On April 1, one week prior to their first game of the season, the Oklahoma Flying Aces withdrew from the season citing drastically increased workers' compensation insurance and were replaced by a reactivated Dodge City Law. On April 5, director of operations Todd Walkenhorst was named the new league commissioner, replacing founder Bertz who had been in the position since 2017.
In August 2021, Walkenhorst was replaced as commissioner by Tommy Benizio, the former commissioner of the Indoor Football League. The league announced expansion teams in the Billings Outlaws, Rapid City Marshals, and the Topeka Tropics. The league also announced a team in Denver, but it did not make the schedule announced on September 30, 2021, along with the Amarillo Venom, Oklahoma Flying Aces, and West Texas Warbirds. On October 1, the Dodge City Law, which had been a temporary replacement for the Oklahoma Flying Aces, was replaced by an expansion team in Dodge City called the Southwest Kansas Storm. Amarillo and West Texas officially left the league and turned their Lone Star Series from the previous season into the Arena Football Association (AFA) in November 2021. By the end of 2021, J.R. Bond, the new owner of the Sioux City Bandits and Topeka Tropics, had been named the commissioner of the league. The Wichita Force were removed from the league in January 2022.
|Billings Outlaws||Billings, Montana||MetraPark First Interstate Arena||7,000||Kerry Locklin||2021||2022|
|Omaha Beef||Ralston, Nebraska||Liberty First Credit Union Arena||4,600||Marvin Jones||2000||2015|
|Rapid City Marshals||Rapid City, South Dakota||Summit Arena at The Monument||7,500||Dante Dudley||2021||2022|
|Salina Liberty||Salina, Kansas||Tony's Pizza Events Center||7,583||Heron O'Neal||2016|
|Sioux City Bandits||Sioux City, Iowa||Tyson Events Center||6,941||Erv Strohbeen||2000||2015|
|Southwest Kansas Storm||Dodge City, Kansas||United Wireless Arena||5,300||Mark Timberlake||2021||2022|
|Wyoming Mustangs||Gillette, Wyoming||Wyoming Center at the CAM-PLEX||4,500||Cedric Walker||2020||2021|
Map of teamsEdit
- Amarillo Venom (Amarillo, Texas) — Joined from the Lone Star Football League (LSFL) in 2015 and were members of the CIF from 2015 to 2020. Played the 2021 pandemic-affected season in the Texas-based Lone Star Series before forming the Arena Football Association (AFA) for the 2022 season.
- Bismarck Bucks (Bismarck, North Dakota) — Played in the CIF in 2017 and 2018 but joined the Indoor Football League for the 2019 season.
- Bloomington Edge (Bloomington, Illinois) — Played in the CIF in 2016 and 2017. Rejoined the Indoor Football League for the 2018 season.
- CenTex Cavalry (Belton, Texas) — Played in the CIF in 2017 but suspended operations after one season. Hoped to return for the 2019 season but did not.
- Chicago Eagles (Chicago, Illinois) — Played in the CIF in 2016 but suspended operations after one season with hopes to return for the 2018 season, but did not.
- Dallas Marshals (Dallas/Mesquite, Texas) — Played in the CIF from 2016 until mid-season of 2018, known as the Mesquite Marshals in 2016.
- Dodge City Law (Dodge City, Kansas) – Joined from the CPIFL. After receiving a league penalty towards the end of the 2017 season, the team lost home field advantage in the playoffs. With the team under scrutiny for the penalty and not promptly refunding tickets to the lost home game, the Law left the CIF. Returned for 2021 season under new ownership and the transferred roster of the Oklahoma Flying Aces. The Law were replaced by the expansion Southwest Kansas Storm in 2022.
- Duke City Gladiators (Albuquerque, New Mexico) – Late addition to the CIF in 2015; left for the IFL after winning its second consecutive championship in 2019.
- Kansas City Phantoms (Independence, Missouri) – Played in the CIF for the 2017 and 2018 season. Removed from team list prior to the 2019 season.
- New Mexico Stars (Rio Rancho, New Mexico) — Joined from the LSFL but left the league prior to the start of the 2015 season following the resignation of the team's head coach. The team was most recently a member of the now defunct AIF.
- Oklahoma Flying Aces (Enid, Oklahoma) - Played in CIF beginning in 2019 but suspended operations prior to 2021 season. Team assets were subsequently sold in 2022.
- Quad City Steamwheelers (Moline, Illinois) — Played in the CIF in 2018 but joined the Indoor Football League for the 2019 season.
- River City Raiders (St. Charles, Missouri) — Joined from American Indoor Football after the 2016 season. Left the CIF prior to their first season apparently due to non-payment of league fees. However, the Raiders claimed the departure of the Chicago Eagles caused too many adverse effects on their schedule.
- Salina Bombers (Salina, Kansas) — Joined from the CPIFL. Suspended by the league on May 28, 2015, for failing to meet league obligations with two games left to play. The organization folded later the same day. The two remaining games, one home and one away, were both cancelled.
- San Angelo Bandits (San Angelo, Texas) — Played in the CIF in 2015 and 2016 after joining from the LSFL. Folded and replaced by the CenTex Cavalry for 2017.
- Sioux Falls Storm (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) – Joined from the IFL during the 2017 off-season but they could not join the CIF because of a league dispute. Returned to the IFL.
- Texas Revolution (Frisco, Texas) — Joined from the IFL as an inaugural CIF member. Folded during 2019 season.
- Topeka Tropics (Topeka, Kansas) — Winless team that folded after inaugural 2022 season.
- West Michigan Ironmen (Muskegon, Michigan) — Played in the CIF for the 2017 season after joining from American Indoor Football. Joined the Indoor Football League for the 2018 season, the CIF then filed an injunction to keep them from playing in the IFL for 2018. After a change in ownership, the Ironmen were announced to return to the CIF in 2019, however, they were not listed as members when the 2019 schedule was released.
- West Texas Warbirds (Odessa, Texas) — Joined the CIF for the 2020 season, which was then cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Played the 2021 pandemic-affected season in the Texas-based Lone Star Series before forming the Arena Football Association (AFA) for the 2022 season.
- Wichita Falls Nighthawks (Wichita Falls, Texas) — Joined from the IFL during the 2017 offseason, but they could not join the CIF because of a league dispute.
- Wichita Force (Wichita, Kansas) – Joined as an expansion team for the inaugural season of the CIF in 2015. The Force were removed from the league prior to the 2022 season for not meeting league requirements and would join West Texas and Amarillo (who wouldn't end up playing in 2022) in the AFA
When the CPIFL started in 2013, the championship game was known as the "Champions Bowl", so the CIF used the same name for their title game.
|Year||Title||Winning team||Losing team||Score|
|2015||Champions Bowl I||Sioux City Bandits||Texas Revolution||76–61|
|2016||Champions Bowl II||Wichita Force||Amarillo Venom||48–45|
|2017||Champions Bowl III||Texas Revolution||Omaha Beef||59–49|
|2018||Champions Bowl IV||Duke City Gladiators||Sioux City Bandits||31–27|
|2019||Champions Bowl V||Duke City Gladiators||Salina Liberty||35–29|
|2020||Season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic|
|2021||Champions Bowl VI||Omaha Beef||Salina Liberty||40–39|
|2022||Champions Bowl VII||Salina Liberty||Omaha Beef||38–34|
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