Lots of empty seats at AAF games

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Maybe it was the weather.

After averaging better than 19,000 fans per game in its first two weeks, league-wide attendance at Alliance of American Football games fell for a second straight week — this time to an average of less than 10,000.

Thunderstorms in Birmingham, Ala., and winter weather in Salt Lake City, Utah likely contributed to the poor turnout. The Iron, which had more than 17,000 people at Legion Field for each of its first two games, drew just 6,539 for its 12-11 loss to San Antonio on Sunday.

Temperatures at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City hovered around freezing and snow was falling. Orlando coach Steve Spurrier joked about Florida guys winning in wintry conditions after his Apollos beat the Stallions, 20-11 on Saturday night.

The Stallions announced a paid crowd of 9,302 for the game, but far fewer actually showed.

Another factor in the Week 4 dropoff: San Antonio and Orlando were both on the road.

The Commanders drew almost 28,000 fans to the Alamodome in Week 1 and more than 29,000 in Week 2. The Apollos, the league’s only remaining undefeated team, are second in attendance with an average of 20,293.

Salt Lake, with a reported average of 9,972, has posted the lowest attendance in the league thus far. Arizona (10,308) and Atlanta (10,717), the two AAF franchises in NFL cities, have drawn the next smallest crowds.

Separating from pack

The Apollos have stamped themselves as the clear AAF favorite after four weeks. They’ve averaged more than 385 yards of offense per game, better than 29 points (eight points better than San Diego at No. 2) and have the league MVP frontrunner in quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who has passed for more than 1,000 yards while throwing six touchdowns and no interceptions.

Orlando is now the 2-1 favorite to win the first AAF title.

Saturday

Orlando Apollos at Birmingham Iron: Safe to say there will be more fans at Birmingham’s Legion Stadium when the undefeated Apollos come to town. Problem is, though, does the Iron have enough offense to keep up? APOLLOS

Salt Lake Stallions at San Diego Fleet: Since a 15-6 loss to San Antonio, the Fleet has scored 23 or more each time out. The Stallions are the lowest scoring team in the Western Conference. FLEET

Sunday

Memphis Express at Atlanta Legends: Both teams are 1-3, and while Memphis has been more competitive, the Legends got a spark from former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in Sunday’s win over Arizona. LEGENDS

San Antonio Commanders at Arizona Hotshots: Prior to the season, the Hotshots were favored to win the title. But they enter this one off losses to a pair of 1-3 teams. The Commanders’ two wins have been powered by their defense. UNDER

Last week: 1-3

Season: 3-5

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About the Author

Ched Whitney

Ched Whitney has been a journalist in Las Vegas since 1994. He worked for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 18 years, where he was the paper’s art director for 12. Since becoming a freelancer in 2012, his work has appeared at ESPN.com, AOL, The Seattle Times and UNLV Magazine, among others. ​

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