The Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization announced Tuesday they have acquired the Cleveland Gladiators Arena Football League (AFL) franchise. The announcement was made by Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena President Len Komoroski.
The Gladiators now join Dan Gilbert's sports and entertainment family of companies based in Ohio. That portfolio includes the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA, the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League, the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL), Quicken Loans Arena, Veritix, Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, opening this spring and Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, slated to open in 2013.
"We're very excited about adding the Gladiators to our family of teams here at The Q. The AFL offers a high-energy, action-packed product that fits very well with our own approach to sports and entertainment. We will operate the Gladiators in a new, expanded way that will result in an even better value and fun, super-charged experience for our fans, while also creating a great platform for the team's future success on and off the field," said Komoroski.
The Gladiators were acquired from former Gladiators majority owner and CEO, Jim Ferraro. Ferraro originally purchased the New Jersey AFL franchise in 2000 and relocated the team to Las Vegas as the Gladiators in late 2002. Following the 2007 season, the Gladiators relocated to Cleveland and began play at The Q for the 2008 season. Cleveland Browns legend Bernie Kosar became part of the franchise with the move to Cleveland for the 2008 season and has remained a special advisor to the team. Kosar will continue in his role with the new organization as special advisor to the Gladiators.
Veteran Gladiators executive Phil Tesar will lead the team's business transition to the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization working closely with its executive leadership team. The Gladiators will also immediately begin a transition process to relocate their team offices to The Q.
The franchise will begin their 17th season on March 12th, 2012 on the road against the Georgia Force. To start their nine-game regular season home slate at The Q, they return to Cleveland on March 26th to take on the Kansas City Command. The 2012 season also marks the 25th Anniversary Season of the AFL.
"It is a historic year for the Arena Football League," AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz said. "As we enter the League's 25th Anniversary, it speaks volumes to partner with Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers organization. Already having a major footprint in the Cleveland sports arena, with the Cavaliers, Monsters hockey and Quicken Loans Arena, this partnership is far reaching. It is a tremendous honor to welcome Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Komoroski and the Cavaliers organization to the Arena Football League as they have always shown such commitment to their fans."