One of the bright spots of the 1990's in Tampa Bay sports (while the Buccaneers were mired in sub-mediocrity, while the Lightning were still a new commodity in Tampa Bay (and still an expansion caliber team), before the
Devil Rays were awarded to Vince Naimoli... Before Raymond James Stadium was constructed, before the St. Pete Times Forum (aka Ice Palace) was even conceptualized...
One bright spot, from long ago, was arena football. The war-along-the-boards that married the region's love for American football with it's not-used-enough Domed stadium in St. Petersburg (Then: Thunderdome, now: Tropicana Field). A 50 yard field that gave birth to the legend of QB Jay Gruden among others...
The Tampa Bay Storm. The Arena Football League.
News has come out that the AFL - which had suspended operations for the 2009 season -- is done. I mean, seriously, gone. Kaput. Thank you for playing. Operations are to be ceased indefinately with a Chapter 7th bankruptcy filing expected.
23 years of existence can't quite overcome the lack of a sound business model and lack of a national TV deal. Flashy ownership such as John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi can't quite overcome the horrid state of the economy.
And so, the team that followed the Lightning from the Dome to Times Palace says adieu. Tampa Bay and the sporting world has moved on... but memories (for those who grew up with the Storm) will remain.