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updated: 10/29/2013 4:11 PM

With Rush gone, AFL sets realignment for 2014 season

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Daily Herald Report

With the Chicago Rush franchise sitting out the season after failing to find a bankable owner, Arena Football League executives met in Elk Grove Village this week to announce the league's realignment and share best marketing practices as it prepares for its 27th season in 2014.

With 14 teams in the mix, AFL officials announced division alignment for the 2014 season on Tuesday. The AFL will feature four divisions within two conferences based on geographic relationships, according to a statement released by the AFL.

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To keep rivalries in place, there will be an eight-team American Conference and six-team National Conference.

The two newest AFL markets -- Portland and Los Angeles -- will join the National Conference. Portland takes over the Milwaukee Mustangs franchise that sat out the 2013, and the L.A. Kiss was added for the 2014 season. After failing with two ownership groups last season, AFL owners took control of the Chicago Rush to finish the season, shifting a few of its final games from Rosemont to Rockford. After the season, AFL owners voted to suspend the Rush franchise, and the Utah Blaze franchise also suspended its operations.

The regular season schedule will be released soon, and AFL owners also have a decision soon on playoff format.

The complete division alignment of the Arena Football League for the 2014 season is as follows:

Arena Football League

American Conference

South Division

Jacksonville

New Orleans

Orlando

Tampa Bay

East Division

Cleveland

Iowa

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

National Conference

Pacific Division

Portland

San Jose

Spokane

West Division

Arizona

Los Angeles

San Antonio

As part of a three-day "best practices" convention, representatives from all 14 AFL teams met in Elk Grove Village to discuss such items as fan engagement, corporate partnerships and ticket sales.

Last month, the newly formed L.A. Kiss hired former Rush head coach Bob McMillen of Naperville to become their first head coach in franchise history.

Earlier this fall, AFL owners asked each franchise to commit to the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Commitments were not submitted for the Chicago Rush and the Utah Blaz. At that time, however, AFL officials said in a statement that they "fully expect" both Chicago and Utah to rejoin the league the near future.

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