AUDL to Add Houston Franchise; Tampa and Ottawa Folding

The league will drop back to 24 teams after expanding to 25 teams in recent years.

Houston, Texas.

The American Ultimate Disc League is adding another new franchise in 2023 as two existing teams will cease operations.

The league is adding a third team to Texas with the introduction of a franchise in Houston, which will join the South Division alongside the Austin Sol and Dallas Legion. The team is owned by a group that includes the owners of the Houston SaberCats, a Major League Rugby franchise, and other AUDL team owners, according to AUDL Senior Director of Marketing Ryan Pierce.

“Today marks an exciting new chapter in the history of the AUDL,” said AUDL CEO and Commissioner Steve Hall in a statement. “Adding a team in Houston has been a goal of our league as the region’s ultimate community has continued to grow and flourish. Welcoming ultimate fans to Houston Sports Park sets a new gold standard for AUDL team markets.”

The team is expected to play in the Houston Sports Park, a new $3.2 million, 4,000 seat stadium that was built for the SaberCats and opened in 2019. The Houston franchise does not yet have a name or logo.

Meanwhile, the AUDL announced that two franchises will be ceasing operations: the Tampa Bay Cannons and Ottawa Outlaws. Both teams have struggled with attendance, and neither team has had a winning season since 2017. The Cannons changed ownership and moved from Jacksonville to Tampa Bay in 2018, where they went 11-39 in four seasons. Ottawa struggled to attract interest in the same way as the Montreal Royal and Toronto Rush and never reached the playoffs as a franchise.

“As a Canadian small market team, we faced continuing cost challenges,” said Outlaws and Rush owner Jim Lloyd. “We worked very hard on expanding our ownership base but were unsuccessful in securing a strategic partner. We are extremely disappointed that we will not be returning to the field in 2023.”

The league will now operate with 24 teams in 2023. Ottawa and Tampa become the first franchises to leave the league since 2018, when the Nashville Nightwatch and San Francisco FlameThrowers folded. Since then, the AUDL has added teams in Boston, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Portland. The 2023 season will begin in late April.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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