SAN DIEGO – San Diego Fleet President Jeff Garner and General Manager Dave Boller expressed their shock and disappointment Wednesday at the Alliance of American Football’s abrupt suspension of operations.
The two executives released a statement thanking the team’s players, coaches and staff, as well as fans for their support. The Fleet was first in the league in merchandise sales and near the top in attendance, reaching nearly 20,000 attendees in the team’s final home game.
“From the inception of the league, our goal was to return high- caliber professional football back to San Diego,” Garner and Boller said in the joint statement. “(AAF co-founders) Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian delivered with a quality product that fans consumed on national TV, online and here in San Diego, where their dedication to the new home team was abundantly evident by the electric atmosphere at SDCCU Stadium.”
According to reports, league majority owner Tom Dundon decided to effectively shutter the operation when it became apparent that the NFL Players Association would not agree to loan players to the independent league. Dundon opined in an interview last week that the league could not survive without support from the NFL.
The Fleet were 3-5 and scheduled to play two more games, including the regular-season finale at home April 14. The team had an outside shot at a playoff berth, needing to win its final two games to have a chance of being one of the top two teams in the league’s Western Conference.
Garner and Boller did not have information about when or how fans will be refunded for tickets to the team’s unplayed games. According to the two executives, league officials are still sorting out such details.
The San Diego Seals, one of the National Lacrosse League’s two new expansion teams, announced that the team will honor April 14 San Diego Fleet tickets for its April 12 home game against the Saskatchewan Rush. Seals president Steve Govett praised the Fleet as a “professional organization.”
“We admired their commitment to the local community, and were disappointed to hear that their league ceased operations,” Govett said. “In an effort to make the best of a difficult situation, the Seals organization is happy to welcome their fans to our next home game as our guests.”
Fleet ticket holders can redeem their Seals tickets at sealslax.com/divein.