The ‘Antonio Brown Empire’ in Albany, New York Has Ended in Tragedy
The sports world is one that's made up of winners and losers, and today, the Albany sports community lost in a major way.
After months of cautiously backing Antonio Brown's leadership of the Albany Empire, the league to which the team belonged, the National Arena League, made a shocking and unanimous decision about the future of the franchise.
For the time being, it appears as though Brown's triumphant return to the Capital Region football scene has ended in tragedy.
National Arena League Votes to Remove Albany Empire from Conference; Season Ends
Thursday afternoon, the National Arena League sent out a press release, sharing the shocking news that the NAL board of owners have decided unanimously to terminate the membership agreement of the Albany Empire.
The league posted this on their Twitter account earlier today:
In short, every team in the league is responsible for paying 1/7th of the league's monthly operating budget every month, and the Empire had failed to do so. The league was compensated by the team in April, but did not receive payment in May, and was later forced to credit April's payment back to the owner of the Empire, Antonio Brown.
On the heels of this announcement, MVP Arena representatives shared in a news release that the remainder of the Albany Empire's 2023 season had officially been cancelled. All ticket holders, both season-long and individual game, will be eligible to receive refunds for their purchases.
With this in-mind, Saturday's game at MVP Arena is effectively cancelled, and any promise of Antonio Brown playing a game for the Albany Empire is now null-and-void.
This is an extremely disappointing day for Albany sports fans, but one that likely doesn't come as a surprise. The "Antonio Brown era" has been rife with ups-and-downs from the moment the ink dried on the original purchase agreement. The team cycled through coaches and players throughout the season, while also making headlines for failed payments to employees and broken promises to fans.
My heart breaks for long-time Albany arena football fans, from those who were here for the days of the Albany Firebirds, to those who supported the original run of the Empire. The Capital Region's legacy for strong arena football teams, a legacy which was strengthened by the performances of Brown's own father, has been tarnished forever.
What happens next for the Albany Empire? It's too soon to tell, but at this point, we'll probably be lucky to see the team take the field again.