|New Orleans VooDoo|
|Home arena||New Orleans Arena |
|City, State||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Head Coach||Jon Norris|
|Division titles||1: 2004|
|Wild Card berths||0|
The New Orleans VooDoo are a team in the Arena Football League. They were established in 2004. They suspended operations due to Hurricane Katrina. They folded in 2009, but came back in 2011 when the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings announced that they were moving to New Orleans and retaining the VooDoo name
An AFL expansion team, the VooDoo played its 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. With a national television audience and sold-out T.D. Waterhouse Centre looking on, 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 the VooDoo's backs were broken when a Jay Taylor kickoff hit the iron surrounding the nets and was recovered by the Predators, which, after another touchdown to bring the lead up to 15, effectively sealed the game and ensured the VooDoo would watch the playoffs from home. The final score was 51-40, ending the VooDoo's season at 9-7, a disappointing result for a team widely expected to challenge for the ArenaBowl championship.
Despite the underachievement, the VooDoo proved to be hits with New Orleans for the second consecutive year, with 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 in that city 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. The team returned in 2007 with Neu as the head coach. The New Orleans Arena hosted ArenaBowl XXI and ArenaBowl XXII.
Return in 2007
In 2007, the VooDoo 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 8 home games, 800 more than the second-place Philadelphia Soul.
The VooDoo started 4-3, before a 7 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 and showed no signs of giving it back anytime soon as 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 1st 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.
Folding & rebirth Of the Voodoo
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." The Arena Football League announced that they will revive the New Orleans VooDoo for the 2010 season before folding themselves.
On September 14, 2010, Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Shreveport-Bossier franchise will move their operation to the city of New Orleans. Jason Coffel, who will serve as the vice president of operations for the VooDoo, said owner Dan Newman will cease operations of the Battle Wings in the Shreveport-Bossier City area and immediately become the New Orleans VooDoo.
The rebirth of the franchise and its renewal will not be affiliated with previous owner of the Voodoo, Tom Benson, or the New Orleans Saints.
"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."
- 2004–2008: Mike Neu, 33–32 (including 0–1 playoffs)
- 2011: Derek Stingley, 2–12 (including playoffs)
- 2011: Jon Norris (interim), 0-0 (including playoffs)
New Orleans VooDoo roster
updated October 6, 2011
- 2004; Aaron Bailey
- 2004; John Fitzgerald
- 2004, 2007: Dan Curran
- 2004–2005: Monty Montgomery
- 2005, 2007: Andy Kelly
- 2004–2005; B.J. Cohen
- 2007: Henry Taylor
- 2007–2008: Tyronne Jones
- 2007–2008; Henry Bryant
- 2007–2008; James Lynch
- 2008; Umar Muhammed
- 2008-2011; Jonathon Ruffin
- 2008; Michale Spicer
- 2008-2011; Danny Wimprine
- 2008: Norman LeJeune
- 2008: Lin-J Shell
- 2004–2005, 2008: Calvin Spears
- 2011; P.J. Berry (Superman)
- 2011; Skyler Green
- 2011; Hutch Gonzales
- 2011; James Jordon
- New Orleans VooDoo official web-site
- New Orleans VooDoo at ArenaFan
- VooDoo Report
- Voodoo back in play in the AFL (New Orleans Source)
- Battlewings Moving to New Orleans (Shreveport Source)