New Orleans VooDoo
|New Orleans VooDoo|
Established 2003 (Original Incarnation)|
Folded 2015 (Second Incarnation)
Played in Smoothie King Center
in New Orleans
Arena Football League (Original Incarnation, 2004–2005)
Purple, Red, Black, Tan, White
|Mascot||Bones & Mojo|
|Owner(s)||Louisiana Arena Football, LLC|
|General manager||Brandon Rizzuto|
|Head coach||Dean Cokinos|
League championships (0)|
Conference championships (0)|
Prior to 2005, the AFL did not have conference championship games
Division championships (3)
|Playoff appearances (6)|
The New Orleans VooDoo were a professional arena football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The VooDoo was a member of the East Division of the American Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). They played their home games in Smoothie King Center. The VooDoo were unrelated to an earlier AFL team, the New Orleans Night, who had competed in the 1991 and 1992 AFL seasons in the Louisiana Superdome.
The original New Orleans VooDoo played in the AFL from 2004 to 2008, at which point the league suspended operations. During that time they were owned in part by Tom Benson, who also owned the National Football League's New Orleans Saints. At the completion of the 2008 season, VooDoo owner Tom Benson announced the disbanding of the VooDoo. This led to the termination of operations for the AFL and ultimate filing by the League of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The minor league affiliate of the AFL—af2—continued play through the 2009 season. In the Fall of 2009, several af2 owners: Paul Ross of the Tulsa Talons, Dan Newman of the Bossier -Shreveport BattleWings, and Brady Nelson of the Spokane Shock—spearheaded in conjunction with Brett Bouchy—former owner of the AFL Arizona Rattlers and Orlando Predators—a move to purchase the assets of the AFL out of Bankruptcy. This successful transaction resulted in the reformation of the AFL for the 2010 season. Prior to the 2010 season, the af2 league terminated operations. Several af2 teams chose to move into the AFL, including the Talons, BattleWings, Iowa Barnstormers, Spokane Shock, Tennessee Valley Vipers, and Boise Burn. Prior to the 2011 AFL season, several AFL teams relocated: The Talons moved from Tulsa to San Antonio; the Vipers moved from Huntsville, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia, and reactivated the Georgia Force; the BattleWings left Bossier City for New Orleans and reactivated the New Orleans VooDoo. Legendary AFL player/coach Derek Stingley coached the VooDoo for the 2011 season and was replaced in 2012 by longtime AFL Quarterback and Coach Pat O'Hara. In 2015—the VooDoo's final season—Dean Cokinos was VooDoo Head Coach. At the completion of the 2015 season, the New Orleans VooDoo ceased operations.
Franchise is born
In 1998, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson committed to the purchase of an Arena Football League (AFL) team, making him the first National Football League (NFL) owner to do so. On March 7, 2002, Benson announced that he would be fielding a franchise in 2003. However, the VooDoo played their inaugural game on the road against the Philadelphia Soul on February 8, 2004. The game marked the return of the AFL to New Orleans, where the New Orleans Night franchise had played two seasons in 1991–1992. The VooDoo logo consists of a human skull wearing a top hat and sunglasses.
In their first year, they drew big crowds to their home games as they became the second team other than the Orlando Predators or Tampa Bay Storm to win the AFL's Southern Division. The team's average attendance of 15,240 ranked fifth in the league and was a major factor in the VooDoo's 7–1 regular season home record.
In 2005, the team started strong, but later found itself on the wrong end of some close, hard-fought games. At a sold-out TD Waterhouse Centre, the VooDoo ended their second regular season against Orlando with both needing a win to reach the playoffs. A second-half rally featuring a fumble return for a touchdown by Thabiti Davis brought the VooDoo back into the game briefly, but a Jay Taylor kickoff hit the iron surrounding the nets and was recovered by the Predators. After another touchdown to bring the lead up to 15, the game was effectively over. The final score was 51–40, ending the VooDoo's season at 9–7.
Despite the underachievement, the VooDoo had an average attendance of 15,338, good for third in the 17-team AFL, and again had the New Orleans market lead the nation in television ratings for Sunday AFL broadcasts on NBC.
The VooDoo's success and popularity led the AFL to consider placing the ArenaBowl in New Orleans. Although it had already signed a deal with Las Vegas to have the ArenaBowl there for 2005, 2006 and 2007, the league had considered terminating that deal. Had the bidding for ArenaBowl XX begun, New Orleans would have been an early favorite, along with Orlando and Arizona.
On August 28, 2005, it was announced that due to the extensive damage suffered by Hurricane Katrina to the New Orleans Arena, the VooDoo would suspend operations for the 2006 season. Fifteen of the players under contract with the VooDoo were moved to the expansion Kansas City Brigade for the 2006 season.
Return in 2007
In 2007, the VooDoo returned with Mike Neu as the head coach. The team set an AFL season ticket record, selling over 13,000 season tickets. This led to the VooDoo leading in announced attendance as well, drawing 16,645 to their eight home games, 800 more than the second-place Philadelphia Soul.
The VooDoo started 4–3, before a seven-game losing streak dropped them to 4–10 and eliminated them from the playoff race.
The final record of 5–11 included the first ever victory by the VooDoo over the Orlando Predators, a dominating 67–54 victory over the eventual ArenaBowl XXI champion San Jose Sabercats, a 78–34 nationally televised defeat at the Philadelphia Soul that ranks as the worst loss in franchise history, a 69–63 nationally televised loss to the New York Dragons where the VooDoo used some curious strategy to run the clock down before going for the winning score on fourth down, and a narrow 80–79 defeat at the Dallas Desperados, in which the VooDoo missed a two-point conversion to try to win the game after regulation time expired.
Despite the terrible record, several players were revelations for the VooDoo. Steve Bellisari, a former Ohio State quarterback, took over the starting job from AFL veteran Andy Kelly; the VooDoo offense became more efficient later in the season. Johnathan Ruffin, a New Orleans native and former Lou Groza award winner, took over kicking duties late in the season and was far more efficient than his predecessor Eric Houle. James Lynch was named to the All-Rookie team at fullback.
The VooDoo were picked by prognosticators to bring up the rear of the AFL after free agent WR Derrick Lewis was injured in training camp. By losing the first game in Los Angeles, and having starting Quarterback Steve Bellisari get hurt, things started to look bleak for the VooDoo. Backup quarterback Danny Wimprine, from the New Orleans area, took over, and led by a defense that threatened to shatter the AFL record for interceptions in a season, the VooDoo won seven of their next eight games and threatened to run away with the Southern Division. The VooDoo then suffered a collapse, losing six of their last seven games, and missed the Arena Football playoffs for the third consecutive season, finishing 8–8. Speculation ensued about Mike Neu's job as head coach, as the VooDoo suffered four second-half-of-the-season collapses in their four years as a franchise, but early indications were that he would continue to be the coach in 2009.
The New Orleans VooDoo received the Arena Football League's Best Support Staff Award during the ArenaBall Awards Ceremony held in New Orleans on Friday, July 25, 2008.
On October 13, 2008, owner Tom Benson announced the New Orleans VooDoo would not be continuing operations in New Orleans. Reasons given were "circumstances affecting the league and the team."
Rebirth Of the VooDoo
The Arena Football League announced that they would revive the New Orleans VooDoo for the 2010 season. On September 14, 2010, Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Bossier-Shreveport franchise would move their operation to the city of New Orleans. Jason Coffel, who would serve as the vice president of operations for the VooDoo, said owner Dan Newman would cease operations of the Battle Wings in the Bossier-Shreveport City area and immediately become the New Orleans VooDoo. "The reason this is happening is the Arena Football League recognizes how passionate the New Orleans market is about football", Coffel said. "Proof of that is the success of the Saints and the success of the VooDoo when they were around." The rebirth of the franchise and its renewal would not be affiliated with previous owner of the Voodoo, Tom Benson, or the New Orleans Saints.
During the 2011 season, after a home loss to the Spokane Shock, the VooDoo fired head coach Derek Stingley on June 26, 2011. He was replaced by General Manager Jon Norris. At the end of a 3–15 season, Jon Norris went back to being the General Manager. Later on August 8, 2011, he hired Pat O'Hara as the VooDoo's third head coach.
The VooDoo started the 2012 season losing their first two games at home, to the Philadelphia Soul and Milwaukee Mustangs. This brought their home losing streak to 12, dating back to 2008, and concerned fans who did not want a possible AFL record set for futility. However, the VooDoo recovered, and gave fans starved for a winner something to hope for. Aided by a South Division where no team pulled away, a three-game winning streak, including an emotional victory over the Jacksonville Sharks put the VooDoo in first place heading into the final month of the regular season. Unfortunately, the VooDoo dropped their last three games including an overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Storm 78–77. Luckily, the team backed into the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Storm losing to the Spokane Shock in the final week. The VooDoo however, fell the following week in the conference semifinals to the Philadelphia Soul, 66–53.
The VooDoo started 2013 off with a dramatic overtime win over the conference rival Orlando Predators. However, as the season progressed, inconsistent play from the offensive line led to injuries and ineffectiveness from starting quarterback Kurt Rocco, while the VooDoo struggled to replace star linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson and defensive back Jeremy Kellem. The record dropped as low as 1-8, but Rocco's return to health has seen the VooDoo start to play better at the right time, in a conference where they never really dropped out of the race for a playoff spot. Chris Dixon took over as starting QB and led the VooDoo to 4 wins in their final 9 games, leading to a win-and-you're-in playoff scenario for the final regular season game at Orlando. Unfortunately, the VooDoo lost 71-42 and finished their season 5-13.
2014 featured the much-ballyhooed signing of former LSU quarterback Ryan Perriloux, but Rocco was named the starter again after training camp. As the season started, injuries led to both seeing playing time early, but a poor 1-5 start has hurt the team's playoff chances. However, the one win was against the rival Orlando Predators, and L. J. Castile has become one of the top receivers in the league.
On July 12, 2015, ArenaFan.com reported that the VooDoo and the Las Vegas Outlaws were to be taken over by the league due to poor attendance and financial issues. Both teams were expected to finish the season, then commissioner Scott Butera was to conduct a search for new owners. An unnamed investment group reportedly sought to purchase the VooDoo and move the franchise to Texas and attended the VooDoo's final home game at Smoothie King Arena against the Tampa Bay Storm on July 18, 2015. That game was possibly the final home game for this franchise. The game with the Outlaws was cancelled and declared to be a tie, only the third such result in league history and the first resulting from a scheduled game having not actually been played. Following a league takeover of the team on July 15, 2015, on August 9, 2015, the Arena Football League announced that the New Orleans VooDoo "have ceased operations effective immediately." It was also reported that the VooDoo could come back for the 2016 season with a new ownership group, but they haven't.
New Orleans VooDoo roster
| Offensive linemen
| Injured reserve
Other league exempt
Refused to report
Rookies in italics
The following VooDoo players were named to All-Arena Teams:
- FB/LB Dan Curran (1)
- OL/DL Tim Martin (1), B. J. Cohen (1)
- LB Norman LeJeune (1), Alvin Ray Jackson (1)
- DB Jeremy Kellem (1), Cameron McGlenn (1)
- KR P. J. Berry (1), Larry Beavers (1)
The following VooDoo players were named to All-Ironman Teams:
The following Battle Wings/VooDoo players were named to All-Rookie Teams:
Smoothie King Center
The VooDoo play their home games in the 16,900 Smoothie King Center (formerly New Orleans Arena). The arena is also known as "The Graveyard" during Voodoo home games.
Note: Statistics are correct through the end of the 2015 Arena Football League season.
|New Orleans VooDoo staff|
| Front Office
- "Unknown". www.govoodoo.com. New Orleans VooDoo.
- Sharon Keating. "New Orleans VooDoo – New Orleans' Arena Football Team, The VooDoo". goneworleans.about.com. About.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- "Benson Brings AFL to New Orleans". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. May 13, 2003. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- Jeff Walker (March 17, 2002). "NFL owners to vote on expanding arena football partnership". www.jacksonville.com. Jacksonville.com. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- Nakia Hogan (September 14, 2010). "The New Orleans VooDoo and the Arena Football League are returning". www.nola.com. NOLA Media Group. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- "New Orleans VooDoo hire Dean Cokinos as its new head coach". www.nola.com. The Times-Pecayune. September 17, 2014. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
- Adam Markowitz (July 12, 2015). "AFL assumes control of Outlaws, VooDoo, announcement expected this week". www.ArenaFan.com. ArenaFan. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- Will Guillory (July 14, 2015). "Arena Football League taking over VooDoo operations". www.theadvocate.com. The Advocate. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- Potential Texas-based investors eye VooDoo, move of franchise as AFL cancels game at Vegas, Ken Trahan, SportsNOLA.com, July 16, 2015
- Christopher Dabe (August 9, 2015). "With no ownership in place, New Orleans VooDoo cease operations, league announces". www.nola.com. NOLA.com. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Christopher Dabe (August 10, 2015). "New Orleans VooDoo could continue with new ownership, league commissioner says". www.nola.com. NOLA.com. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Rachel Whittaker (October 3, 2012). "New Orleans Voodoo to play 6 of 9 home games in Superdome in 2013". www.nola.com. NOLA Media Group. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- New Orleans VooDoo official web-site
- New Orleans VooDoo at ArenaFan
- New Orleans Voodoo at FunWhileItLasted.net