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Beginning of the end of Arena Football League? (again)


Soundwave721
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So the AFL released its 2016 schedule. 16 games over 18 weeks as a 'regular season.'

I put that in quotes because of this: all eight teams will 'earn' playoff berths, making the entire 'regular season' essentially an unbalanced schedule round-robin tournament to determine knock-out round seeding, a la the World Cup. So a team could sit its key players to avoid injury most of the 'regular season,' go 0-16-0, then win a 'championship' by winning three games on the road.

If these guys make it into 2017, I'd be at least a little surprised at this point.

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I dont understand why they didnt do 4 teams make play offs, playoffs are semi finals and then championship game. Makes no sense.

Because the league is a joke. I can see why San Jose and Spokane left... this league stinks like crap!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The answer is 9 home dates.

In previous years, AFL teams had 9 home dates to sell tickets for. As is the case every year, teams sold season ticket packages without knowing the exact schedule, and sold them as a 9-home date package. They only have a 16 game 'regular season' in 2016, providing all its teams with 8 home dates. By having everyone qualify for the postseason, half the teams have 9 home dates they can sell - reducing the number of ticket refunds they'll have to make to season ticket holders.

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The answer is 9 home dates.

In previous years, AFL teams had 9 home dates to sell tickets for. As is the case every year, teams sold season ticket packages without knowing the exact schedule, and sold them as a 9-home date package. They only have a 16 game 'regular season' in 2016, providing all its teams with 8 home dates. By having everyone qualify for the postseason, half the teams have 9 home dates they can sell - reducing the number of ticket refunds they'll have to make to season ticket holders.

Makes sense....

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Why are they even trying? It reminds me of the final days of the USFL (Well, minus a blowhard owner, who is now a Presidential candidate, who said the league should go up against the NFL).

If only Stephen Ross purchased the Generals from Walter Duncan....

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Why are they even trying? It reminds me of the final days of the USFL (Well, minus a blowhard owner, who is now a Presidential candidate, who said the league should go up against the NFL).

If only Stephen Ross purchased the Generals from Walter Duncan....

And the league would've still run out of money because most of the other owners were not paying their bills.
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Why are they even trying? It reminds me of the final days of the USFL (Well, minus a blowhard owner, who is now a Presidential candidate, who said the league should go up against the NFL).

If only Stephen Ross purchased the Generals from Walter Duncan....

And the league would've still run out of money because most of the other owners were not paying their bills.

Guys, all the Trump-eting about moving to the fall didn't make a dime's worth of difference in the USFL's demise. There wouldn't have been a 1986 spring season, either, as a number of team owners had given up the ghost on their clubs (Manges, Oldenburg), given up the ghost on life (Bassett), didn't have a stadium leased to play games in (Tannenbaum/Ross) and/or decided that if there would be a season, it'd be run on a shoestring budget (Dizney, Bullard, etc.) Oh, and let's not forget the owners who had committed suicide or been placed under federal indictment (Arky, Williams). Simply put, it wasn't gonna happen.

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Expanding from 12 teams to 18 after one season for a quick cash grab did at least as much damage as Trump's insistence of the move to the fall, right?

Definitely. Any time you dilute the talent that rapidly, you're risking a weaker product. Imagine if the NFL did this in 1966 to try to take territory from the AFL. I think the bigger issue is ABC had contracts with both leagues and the NFL could put pressure on USFL sponsors that had deals with both leagues. I wonder how much stronger the Arena League would be if the NFL fully bought in.
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Plus, IIRC, the league didn't do much in the way of due diligence regarding the expansion owners' finances, outside of making sure those initial checks cleared.

I think the league could have had at least a couple more seasons if it hadn't made that push for the fall, though. From the limited reading I've done, that was a significant factor in some of the more stable owners with more promising franchises getting the hell out.

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Plus, IIRC, the league didn't do much in the way of due diligence regarding the expansion owners' finances, outside of making sure those initial checks cleared.

This, save one: Ed DeBartolo paid the entire $6 million franchise fee for his Pittsburgh Maulers in cash. All the others were bought on installments that ultimately the league never saw all of.

That's one area where the USFL :censored:ed up - lack of due diligence in the case of some of the expansion owners, most notably Memphis and San Antonio. An equally big error was similar lack of it in screening new owners in places like Los Angeles and Chicago.

The USFL made two titanic mistakes out of the gate: they didn't formalize a true 'salary cap' which would have contained costs (they had an unofficial one, which most teams immediately ignored), and they were so hot to make a network TV deal that they didn't get things which would be considered matter-of-factly today: blackouts in home markets, revenue escalations based on spot revenue or hitting certain ratings targets, re-broadcast rights and ancillary rights ownership, etc. Each of the original 12 teams was locked in at $1.1 million (and that's not a typo - we all know that's :10 of Super Bowl commercial time nowadays) in annual television revenue in 1983. That number was cut by 50% for 1984 with the expansion to 18 teams, then increased when the league pared down to 14 for 1985. And the league made it three years in spite of this.

Had the USFL (1) implemented a hard team salary cap from the outset, (2) negotiated a better initial television deal - particularly with ABC, (3) kept the 1984 expansion to 16 teams as they'd originally intended to do (sticking with Pittsburgh, Memphis, Jacksonville and Houston), and then (4) played a Spring 1986 season... they'd have made it. The league had an offer on the table for cable rights starting in 1987 which would've righted the ship by keeping everyone financially afloat - one that would have driven up network television rights exponentially as well.

Going from 12 to 18 wasn't the problem. Trump wasn't the problem. The NFL gunning for them wasn't the problem. They were their own problem. And getting this back on its original track - that's true of the Arena League folks as well.

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