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Friday, June 18, 2010

Riding the So-o-o-oul Train!!

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Soul are set for an encore in the AFL.

This time, they'll be back without their headline act.

The former league champions are returning to the Arena Football League for the 2011 season without their famous former co-owner, Jon Bon Jovi.

Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski and businessman Craig Spencer are the new majority owners.

"To a certain extent, we never left," Spencer said. "We always wanted to continue and play Arena Football."

The Soul shut down after beating the San Jose SaberCats 59-56 to win the ArenaBowl championship in 2008.

The AFL canceled its season in 2009 after a 22-year run and returned this year with 15 teams under new leadership and economic model. The season runs from April to July.

"The AFL is pleased to welcome the Philadelphia Soul back to the Arena Football family," commissioner Jerry Kurz said. "The passionate fans of Philadelphia and the surrounding area as well as the tremendous ownership group epitomize Arena Football and the league's continued commitment to the communities we serve."

Jaworski was team president in the Soul's first incarnation. Pete Ciarrocchi, owner of the Philadelphia sports bar Chickie's and Pete's, and Cosmo DeNicola are also part of the new ownership group.

Spencer said a salary cap with nonnegotiable, slotted salaries will help ease some of the financial burden that ended the original AFL. He said all players have one-year contracts, meaning the Soul will have their pick of free agents at the end of the season. There is no "expansion" draft.

Spencer said he hopes to have a coach soon, possibly by the end of the month.

The Soul will play their home games at the Wachovia Center.

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