Arena Football League team (1990-2000).
Just before Arena Bowl I, the head of the Arena Football League, Jim Foster, talked to then Albany County Executive Jim Coyne about placing an AFL franchise in the new arena being built in downtown Albany.
On April 19, 1990, Jim Foster held a ceremony with co-owners Glenn Mazula and Joe O'Hara, and announced the creation of the Albany Firebirds franchise. Head coach Rick Buffington led the team to a 3-5 record in their first season, in a tie for 4th place with the Pittsburgh Gladiators. Although far from a successful season, attendance at the new arena was third best in the league.
Success would soon come for the new team, as they would enter the playoffs each year for the next six seasons. Albany thrived off of their very potent offence, led by "Touchdown" Eddie Brown and quarterback Mike Perez. The end of the 1996 season brought a trade of Mike Perez to the rival New York CityHawks, and the departure of their head coach. 1997 turned into a rebuilding season, missing the playoffs.
However, the best was yet to come to the team. With the emergence of Mike Pawlawski as their star quarterback, the Firebirds soon began to regain their strength. This culminated in capturing the Arena Bowl crown in 1999, in front of a home crowd of 13,652 in Albany. Eddie Brown was named Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the Arena Bowl, setting new single-season records for receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Mike Pawlawski set some new AFL records as well, with a 126.9 pass rating.
While playing well in the 2000 season, the team did not reach pre-season expectations. After a quarter-final playoff loss to the Arizona Rattlers, it was announced that the team would be relocating to Indianapolis after 12 seasons in Albany.
The Indiana Firebirds franchise folded before the 2004 season due to financial difficulties, ending one of the longest running Arena League franchises. Albany has since received a new franchise, the Albany Conquest, this time in the smaller market AFL2.
Record by Season:
1990 - 3-5
1991 - 6-4*
1992 - 5-5*
1993 - 5-7*
1994 - 10-2*
1995 - 7-5*
1996 - 10-4*
1997 - 6-8
1998 - 10-4*
1999 - 11-3**
2000 - 9-5
* reached playoffs
** won league championship