Flair-flamboyance-filled relaunched AFL


Arena Football League at Coliseum Summit US 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Lee A. Hutton, III is a person who has his vision and his goals spelled out and are full of flamboyance confidence. At the top of the echelons of the Arena Football League (AFL) (US) he believes in a level playing field for women, has floated the idea of appointing women coaches, proudly states that three of his teams’ owners are women, and believes in paying “handsome” to the players. He also asserts that the relaunched AFL is no old wine in a new bottle.

Bold and brimming-with-confidence, Hutton is a person, who leads from the front and avers that the AFL is here to stay as he says, “We will be the top indoor football game in the entire world.”

With a law background, he became one of the top attorneys in Minnesota (US) and is no stranger to high stakes litigation. A versatile personality, Hutton was also a highly recruited football and track athlete and was also a sports agent for the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and other sports representing athletes in contract negotiation, publicity rights, endorsement contracts, and post-play realities.

In a heart to heart conversation with ‘Coliseum’, Lee A. Hutton, III, Commissioner, Arena Football League, US, tells that the sports market is dying because it is not being able to genuinely value the product per se which is sometimes the players and with the Arena Football League (AFL) he promises to resuscitate the sports market and the target the soul of the industry – the fans – using ingenious methods to drive them to the venues in droves.

Arena Football League

Phoenix (US)-based the Arena Football League (AFL) can refer to one of three successive professional indoor American football leagues in the United States.

The first of these was founded in 1986 and played its first official games in the 1987 season, running for 22 consecutive seasons until going bankrupt following the 2008 season. The second league, consisting largely of teams from the first AFL and arenafootball2 (a minor league majority-owned by the first AFL), purchased the first league’s assets out of bankruptcy and resumed play in 2010 as a continuation of the first AFL.

This second AFL ran for 10 further seasons, before again going bankrupt following the 2019 season. A third AFL, which is not directly connected to the previous two iterations of the league but claiming their histories and trademarks, intends to launch in 2024.

The 2024 season is all set to begin on April 27th, 2024, with a game between the Orlando Predators and the Albany Firebirds.

Touching Positive Chords

Lee A. Hutton, III started off by saying that he was in a dilemma when he was asked to take over the reins of the newly launched AFL – “I didn’t want to be a part of it but an inner voice told me that this is part of your destiny and if you are going to do something bigger and better, this is your time now.”

Mincing no words he stated, “When we started this venture all the other leagues were gossiping and undermining us. Though we have market effects like COVID and strikes that can completely turn your industry upside down, but notwithstanding all these factors, we decided to get people who are invested in our success and the success of their brand.”

When the AFL sent out the message that they were going to launch they hit it hard – 1.3 billion impressions – “We also sent out the message of the first Black Commissioner in professional sports. That was a narrative that nobody has ever stayed with before and so we wanted to introduce the league with that. As we continue to unveil our product, which is basically the teams, the owners and the locations, we are averaging 500 million impressions every time we hit the media.”


Web3 is a marketing term for uses of the World Wide Web which incorporate concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies and token-based economics, all of which existed on the Web prior to the term being created.

Hutton said that they realized that technology is what they needed to deliver the content and acknowledging that he is not a tech guy at all as “I had somebody explain to me Web3 several times but we knew that Web3 is going to help us deliver the content and it worked.”

A person with a lot of foresight, he said, “I just don’t want to stop at Web3. I am a risk-taker. I want to deliver sports contents not just in arenas, not just in Web3 but through virtual reality. I want to be the first league to get there.”

A totally down-to-earth person, Hutton said that he wants to be accessible to people even though he is sitting in the Commissioner’s suite “because at the end of the day, well, this is sports, we are entertainment, we are food for the soul, we are that moment when people can get rid of the rest of the world, come to the venues and cheer for something that they believe in.”


Hutton narrated that they have got some really great partners like Hub to whom “I said we needed an app where the fans can get information in two clicks and they can talk to the team owners, they can talk to me, they can buy tickets, they can go to Web3, everything at a click.”

Fat Pay

Hutton and his team also decided to give a “fat pay” to the players though a lot of people said that they are “crazy”.

He put in, “This is our business model and we are way ahead of the pack. As soon as we announced good money, the players started calling us and they are waiting to get selected on teams. And so we just drove up the supply a lot further than demand. We have 16 teams at present and more players are flocking to us.”

Fan Base

Hutton added that the fan base is a very important component of the business model and “we need to send out a compelling statement to them so that they connect with it. Today’s fan base has changed and they just don’t want to visit a venue and sit and yell. More and more single women are going to the games with their friends and we have to deliver proper content which is not just football but also entertainment.”

Revenue Matters

He said that the revenue stream part is key and “for revenue to flow in the content will have to be good. I want that three star Michelin effect content (distinctive content just like excellent cuisine which makes a visit to the restaurant bang for the bucks) but that does not mean watching the AFL games will be a very expensive affair. To ensure that our coffers jingle we are going to target the traditional footballer and the fans who just want to sit on their couches at home and watch our game and bring in that stadium ambience and discuss AFL with their family and friends. And, of course, we also want to bring in the Gen X, the Gen Ys and the Gen Zs to our stadia seats.”


Lee A. Hutton, III summed up on a positive note, “The Arena Football League (AFL) is going to have a sustainable model that continues to grow and we are going to have a model that goes international and I would love to have an international indoor football that they play every two years. I have my sights set on that goal. We also have a different model. The owners own their team 100 percent and our job is to provide support. My job is to be the face of the AFL and to make sure that our logo is a strong brand with equity to our constituents and throughout the world.”

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