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NBC Is Entering a New Arena

Pro football: Network will increase number of telecasts and move start date of indoor season to February.

October 11, 2002|Larry Stewart

NBC, which lost the NFL in 1998, had to endure the fall of the XFL last year and then lost the NBA, has big plans for the Arena Football League, which begins its 17th season in February.

NBC announced Thursday it will televise up to 70 games on a regional basis during the league's 16-week regular season. The network will televise as many as four games each Sunday.

The playoffs begin May 24-25 and conclude with ArenaBowl XVII on June 22.

League play in the past began in April and concluded in August, but the start date was changed because of the NBC deal.

The Avengers, Los Angeles' AFL entry, are scheduled for six regular-season appearances on NBC, but the network has the option of adding a seventh telecast, the Avengers' May 4 game against Arizona at Phoenix.

Flexible scheduling is one of the highlights of the 2003 season, which has been expanded from 14 weeks to 16. The 16-team league includes the expansion Colorado Crush, which is co-owned by former Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway.

With the addition of the Crush and the loss of the Toronto Phantoms, the league realigned its four divisions.

The Crush is in the Western Division along with the Avengers, Arizona and San Jose.

The Avengers open Feb. 2 against the New Jersey Gladiators at Staples Center. Their second game, also at home, will be against the defending ArenaBowl champion San Jose SaberCats on Feb. 9. That game will be televised by NBC.

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