The Alliance of American football will launch on Sunday, February 9th and it has caused us to reflect on the many years of football in North America and our place in that history. As we look back at the many football leagues that have been organized over the last 50 years, there are two constants: Americans love of football and AstroTurf has always been a part of it. AstroTurf, the inventor of synthetic turf, will once again be at center stage as 8 new football organizations begin play in the Alliance of American Football.
Of course, the NFL is the granddaddy of them all and AstroTurf has been the surface that so much of the rich history of seasons, playoffs, and Super Bowls have played out. The hunger for the game has created a market for many upstart leagues throughout the years and has also left us with many several cult classic teams and logos. But for many, these teams are more than just a cool retro T-shirt, they hold fond memories for towns that either didn’t have an NFL franchise or just needed a football team to hold them over until autumn rolled back around.
The World Football League was one such league that was short-lived but inspired many more attempts to create football organizations in the years to come. It only spanned 1974 and 1975 but AstroTurf was there at such venues as Soldier Field in Chicago, Legion Field in Birmingham, Aloha Stadium in Honolulu and others.
The eighties saw the birth of the USFL and what seemed to be a big threat to the juggernaut that the NFL had created. A lot of marquee players got their start in this league and there was some pretty competition on the field. AstroTurf was there for a lot of those games as well.
The Arena Football League was born out of the desire to give fans a faster game and one that was more intimate for those attending. AstroTurf’s systems were just the ticket for the fast paced indoor game. Not to be outdone the XFL offered fans the excitement of football with alternative rules and lots of showmanship. It only lasted a year but is scheduled for a major comeback in 2020.
AstroTurf has also been part of the Canadian Football League over several decades. The league, formed in 1958, has had some of its most historic moments on our turf with legendary teams such as the Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders and the Montreal Alouettes. We have always loved Canadian Football because they allow bigger fields!
We don’t know what the future holds for The Alliance of American Football but we hope it will be a prosperous one. We do know that we will be a part of it as games are played at the Alamodome in San Antonio and the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. We also know that as leagues are formed, games are played, and football teams look for predictable, safe, and high quality playing surfaces, AstroTurf will be there.