James F. Foster is the founder and first commissioner of the Arena Football League.[1] He, along with two other partners, owns Gridiron Enterprises, which acts as the sanctioning body of the sport of arena football. He is also a former NFL[2] and USFL executive and was later the principal owner of both the Iowa Barnstormers and the AF2's Quad City Steamwheelers.

Born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa, Foster was a receiver for the University of Iowa football team.[2] He derived the basic concept of Arena football while watching the MISL All Star game (indoor soccer) being played at Madison Square Garden[1] on February 11, 1981. He drew it out on the back of a manila envelope.[1] The AFL began league play in 1987. In 1990, Foster was granted a patent on the game of Arena football and the equipment unique to it, particularly the end zone rebound nets, meaning that other indoor football leagues not affiliated with the Arena organization were forced to play by at least somewhat different rules than the ones the AFL uses until the patent expired in September 2007.

When Foster lived in Des Moines during his Iowa Barnstormers ownership days, he served as a member of the board of directors for Jazz Partnerz (Kurt Bowermaster, president), the non-profit group that planned and organized the Greater Des Moines Good Times Jazz Festival.


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