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Death of the Alliance of American Football

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20 minutes ago, BengalErnst said:

Hope to see a lot of roster additions this next two weeks 

But even if a player cut in the next 72 hours is signed by AAF, some will immediately be back on a NFL roster due to injuries, will basically be playing through January and won't be interested in the San Antonio training camp.

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15 hours ago, Mac the Knife said:

Read that sentence.  I point it out not as a knock on you Bull, but to put forth a point.

 

That sentence, right there, tells you where the level of excitement about the AAF is in the overall consciousness of America's football fans.  Not "it's gonna be great," or "they're well heeled financially so they're gonna succeed because they'll be willing to take the financial hits to build the brand," but "...has a chance and will make it at least two seasons."  That's not a high bar to clear, fellas.  And not a ringing endorsement.  Would you invest in a product where your potential client base expressed that attitude?

 

Honestly I think one of the issues is we've seen quite a few leagues announce they are starting up and never get off the ground and actually play games. In recent years I've seen the New USFL, A11 Football and a couple of others that I can't think of a the moment. I'm cautiously optimistic and am following the media from the league, but I won't really started getting invested in the league until they actually start playing games.

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Hey Mac...funny, but I used the wLAF for my cases studies as an MBA student at NYU. 

 

I remember the first ads that came out in 1990. There was a Knights poster telling everyone that it was an "NFL products" if memory serves me right. But selling the league as a developmental league would have killed anything in Europe. 

 

From the start I think Barcelona was a strange choice. The best Euro teams to that point were in Stockholm, Geneva and Bologna. I recall being told by my friends in the league that they never did do a thorough search of cities and teams. The league was astounded by the success they had in Frankfurt and later Dusseldorf. 

 

The league had ownership problems from the beginning. Some franchises like London were league owned. Other franchises like Barcelona had owners who had no clue whatsoever. Montreal was practically owner by the league. The WLAF had to include London. Playing at Wembley was stupid. Frankfurt over Berlin was an interesting choice and in time proved to be the right one. Barcelona was odd. Where was the fourth Euro team? They should have had four. 

 

In he U.S., they had to include Orlando, Birmingham, Sacramento. Montreal had no CFL team but Baltimore had a CFL team. The Maloof family owned Birmingham. I liked Columbus. But Raleigh-Durham, especially when Charlotte was angling for a team? It was a major turnoff for fans. San Antonio had the cachet of Tom Landry and the Benson family ownership, but no place to play. NY/NJ was not going to work. Also, the league was dumb financially. Separate offices from the NFL (they were on Madison Avenue), and they did not hire an experienced finance guy to hedge currency. They were slaughtered $ ---> Euro.

 

Unlike the USFL, how would you recruit coaches for a league like the WLAF that was a 'tweeter? George Allen had an axe to grind with the NFL. Ralston, Red Miller, etc. brought credibility. And there were some gems found – Jim Mora, etc. But for the WLAF? I think it's great that players and coaches made their way to the NFL – Jason Garrett for one. Peter Vass ran trips bubble screen all the time. It is now a staple in the NFL.

 

If the owners are willing to stay the course in the AAFL, it may work out.

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42 minutes ago, NYC Cosmos said:

Hey Mac...funny, but I used the wLAF for my cases studies as an MBA student at NYU. 

 

I remember the first ads that came out in 1990. There was a Knights poster telling everyone that it was an "NFL products" if memory serves me right. But selling the league as a developmental league would have killed anything in Europe. 

 

From the start I think Barcelona was a strange choice. The best Euro teams to that point were in Stockholm, Geneva and Bologna. I recall being told by my friends in the league that they never did do a thorough search of cities and teams. The league was astounded by the success they had in Frankfurt and later Dusseldorf. 

 

The league had ownership problems from the beginning. Some franchises like London were league owned. Other franchises like Barcelona had owners who had no clue whatsoever. Montreal was practically owner by the league. The WLAF had to include London. Playing at Wembley was stupid. Frankfurt over Berlin was an interesting choice and in time proved to be the right one. Barcelona was odd. Where was the fourth Euro team? They should have had four. 

 

In he U.S., they had to include Orlando, Birmingham, Sacramento. Montreal had no CFL team but Baltimore had a CFL team. The Maloof family owned Birmingham. I liked Columbus. But Raleigh-Durham, especially when Charlotte was angling for a team? It was a major turnoff for fans. San Antonio had the cachet of Tom Landry and the Benson family ownership, but no place to play. NY/NJ was not going to work. Also, the league was dumb financially. Separate offices from the NFL (they were on Madison Avenue), and they did not hire an experienced finance guy to hedge currency. They were slaughtered $ ---> Euro.

 

Unlike the USFL, how would you recruit coaches for a league like the WLAF that was a 'tweeter? George Allen had an axe to grind with the NFL. Ralston, Red Miller, etc. brought credibility. And there were some gems found – Jim Mora, etc. But for the WLAF? I think it's great that players and coaches made their way to the NFL – Jason Garrett for one. Peter Vass ran trips bubble screen all the time. It is now a staple in the NFL.

 

If the owners are willing to stay the course in the AAFL, it may work out.

 

 

IIRC, Paris and Milan were to have teams, Barcelona was a quick last-minute addition, as was Frankfurt, replacing the Memphis Galaxy because Fred Smith thought it would harm his NFL expansion chances.  

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4 hours ago, Skycast said:

 

Honestly I think one of the issues is we've seen quite a few leagues announce they are starting up and never get off the ground and actually play games. In recent years I've seen the New USFL, A11 Football and a couple of others that I can't think of a the moment. I'm cautiously optimistic and am following the media from the league, but I won't really started getting invested in the league until they actually start playing games.

You want to hear what's really funny?  The two leagues you cited by name both approached me at an early point, asking me to be involved in their operations.  One wanted me on their advisory board, the other wanted the USFL-related domains I held through USFL.info (of which I think now I still only own chicagoblitz.com) and was willing to make me a minority stakeholder in the league to acquire them.

 

Each conversation ended when they attempted to answer the same three-part question, and it was the first question I asked in both cases:  "What are your sources for capital, how much capital do you anticipate needing to raise, and from where do you anticipate raising the shortfall between what you have now and what you need on the day you kick off?"

 

The response I got, in both cases, could best be described thusly... ?

 

They had gone far enough in their planning to actually announce what they were doing, but they hadn't devised an answer to the very first question I asked - and the most important.  I'll disclose that I'm working on a sports-related project of my own right now.  A scant few here on the CCSLC with some design chops may be brought in and given some additional information, because I value their work or their opinion and think they could work well on putting forth some top-notch identities in association with it.  But that's all I'm disclosing, to anyone, unless and until that question, and the 40 or so others I've come up with in the years since, are not only asked, but answered to my complete satisfaction.  And guys like that?  They are precisely why.

 

1 hour ago, NYC Cosmos said:

Hey Mac...funny, but I used the wLAF for my cases studies as an MBA student at NYU. 

 

I remember the first ads that came out in 1990. There was a Knights poster telling everyone that it was an "NFL products" if memory serves me right. But selling the league as a developmental league would have killed anything in Europe. 

 

From the start I think Barcelona was a strange choice. The best Euro teams to that point were in Stockholm, Geneva and Bologna. I recall being told by my friends in the league that they never did do a thorough search of cities and teams. The league was astounded by the success they had in Frankfurt and later Dusseldorf. 

 

The league had ownership problems from the beginning. Some franchises like London were league owned. Other franchises like Barcelona had owners who had no clue whatsoever. Montreal was practically owner by the league. The WLAF had to include London. Playing at Wembley was stupid. Frankfurt over Berlin was an interesting choice and in time proved to be the right one. Barcelona was odd. Where was the fourth Euro team? They should have had four. 

 

In he U.S., they had to include Orlando, Birmingham, Sacramento. Montreal had no CFL team but Baltimore had a CFL team. The Maloof family owned Birmingham. I liked Columbus. But Raleigh-Durham, especially when Charlotte was angling for a team? It was a major turnoff for fans. San Antonio had the cachet of Tom Landry and the Benson family ownership, but no place to play. NY/NJ was not going to work. Also, the league was dumb financially. Separate offices from the NFL (they were on Madison Avenue), and they did not hire an experienced finance guy to hedge currency. They were slaughtered $ ---> Euro.

 

Unlike the USFL, how would you recruit coaches for a league like the WLAF that was a 'tweeter? George Allen had an axe to grind with the NFL. Ralston, Red Miller, etc. brought credibility. And there were some gems found – Jim Mora, etc. But for the WLAF? I think it's great that players and coaches made their way to the NFL – Jason Garrett for one. Peter Vass ran trips bubble screen all the time. It is now a staple in the NFL.

 

If the owners are willing to stay the course in the AAFL, it may work out.

I'd love to take a look at a copy of those materials if you still have 'em, Cosmos.  WLAF was something I paid attention to, but by that time I was looking at it from a business perspective rather than a fan perspective; and at the time I was still collecting the bulk of the material that now makes up USFL.info, so I was far more focused on that than what the WLAF folks were up to.  The only things I knew at the time were the people involved (the names of Tex Schramm and Oliver Luck gave me cause to think it might actually fly) and that the NFL had voted to commit a (then) serious piece of resources to the project on an annual basis (in 2016, I would learn exactly how much, and the impressed feeling I had at the time went away very, very quickly).

 

I always thought their initial city selection methodology was off-bubble, and that explains why.  From the outset I thought that out of all their teams they should have had one - and only one - mainland U.S. market.  Just to have a presence here, with the rest being in other nations - and a truly global spread would've been financially and logistically resource insanity, but historic.  They went with 10 or 12 teams at the start IIRC (but to be honest, I don't); had it been me doing the choosing, I'd have truly run with the idea of it being global.  One four-team North American division comprised of, say, Montreal, Vancouver, Mexico City and St. Louis (which was between the Cards and Rams at the time).  A European division comprised of London, Berlin, Paris and Rome.  And a Pacific division of Honolulu, Canberra, Tokyo and maybe Seoul.  The travel would've been a bitch - but what fan bases were being built in each market (save the U.S. and Canada) would've been the equivalent of giving them national teams; something everyone but the U.S. tends to embrace moreso than club teams.

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I just went through some files from my days working in broadcasting. I interviewed Tex Schramm on a couple of occasions regarding his efforts to launch an international gridiron football league. Here's what I've been able to discern from the notes I've found, thus far.

It appears that I first heard about Schramm's plan for what would eventually become the World League of American Football in 1989. Initially, Schramm was looking for the league to launch with 12 franchises. According to the notes I took, at that time the cities that were candidates to host teams were Birmingham, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Mexico City, Montreal, Nashville, New York, and Orlando in North America; Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Milan, and Paris were under consideration in Europe. Schramm saw New York and Montreal as being locks for a North America East Division, with Los Angeles and Mexico City holding the same appeal for him in a North America West Division. The race for slots in the proposed European Division was wide open.

The proposed structure for the league then appears to have morphed into a 10-team circuit, with six American teams (a New York-based franchise, joined by five chosen from amongst Birmingham, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Nashville, Orlando, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Jose) and four European clubs (Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, and Milan).

Throughout the spring and summer of 1990, the league began to announce markets. The lineup of host markets consisted of Barcelona, Birmingham, Frankfurt, London, Montreal, New York, North Carolina (initially, it was a toss-up between whether Charlotte or Raleigh would land the team), Orlando, Sacramento, and San Antonio.  Owners were announced throughout November and December. The ownership breakdown was:

Barcelona - Josep Figueras
Birmingham - Gavin Maloof
Frankfurt - league-owned
London - Bob Payton
Montreal - league-owned
New York - F. X. Silverman
Orlando - Raj Bathal
Raleigh-Durham - George Shinn
Sacramento - Fred Anderson
San Antonio - Larry Benson and Tom Landry

I'll see whether or not I can dig anything else up.



    

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Wasn't there some sort of practice squad team based in Dallas?  I think I remember reading that somewhere.

 

 

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37 minutes ago, GDAWG said:

Wasn't there some sort of practice squad team based in Dallas?  I think I remember reading that somewhere.

 

 

Yup! Team Dallas. That was the league's way of making sure they had players ready to play if a team had a bunch of injuries. Since they had smaller rosters and no taxi/practice squad it was important. I'd expect AAF to do the same.

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So how exactly does a single entity league work when they also announce owners and general managers?  

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20 hours ago, BengalErnst said:

So how exactly does a single entity league work when they also announce owners and general managers?  

 

General managers are not incompatible with a single-entity structure. But team owners sure are.

 

In MLS, the teams don't have owners; the various ownership groups are called "investor-operators". Each group invests in the league, becoming a part owner of it; and each is given the right to operate a team.

 

The problem is transparency. In MLS, all players are signed to the league, not to any team. But the league allows the teams to trade the players as though the teams were the employers. We just have to trust that the league itself is not orchestrating player movement. In the current-day MLS, this is certainly the case, even if the league imposed certain player moves in the early days.

 

So, for the new AAF, we can probably assume that the central league office will be making a good many of the player personnel decisions, while reams' GMs will be making others.

 

P.S. - The single-entity league structure should be illegal.

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13 hours ago, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

 

General managers are not incompatible with a single-entity structure. But team owners sure are.

 

In MLS, the teams don't have owners; the various ownership groups are called "investor-operators". Each group invests in the league, becoming a part owner of i; and each is given the right to operate a team.

 

The problem is transparency. In MLS, all players are signed to the league, not to any team. But the league allows the teams to trade the players as though the teams were the employers. We just have to trust that the league itself is not orchestrating player movement. In the current-day MLS, this is certainly the case, even if the league imposed certain player moves in the early days.

 

So, for the new AAF, we can probably assume that the central league office will be making a good many of the player personnel decisions, while reams' GMs will be making others.

 

P.S. - The single-entity league structure should be illegal.

Invester/operator didn't exist until MLS tried moving Columbus to Austin. The owner is in charge of the team. He assignd GMs and makes sponsorship deals, not the office in New York. That's why every owner except for one still calls themselves owners.

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Wouldn't it be like if your employer transferred you to the Dallas office, and then transferred a few employees from there to the LA office?  Obviously SPORTS! isn't the same as real life, but maybe it could be justified that way.

 

A fledgling league (not saying that MLS is that anymore) absolutely should orchestrate player movement.  It kinda worked for NHL.

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1 hour ago, MJWalker45 said:

Invester/operator didn't exist until MLS tried moving Columbus to Austin. The owner is in charge of the team. He assignd GMs and makes sponsorship deals, not the office in New York. That's why every owner except for one still calls themselves owners.

 

Anthony Precourt is not alone in identifying himself as a Major League Soccer investor/operator. He's joined by Robert K. Kraft and Jonathan A. Kraft of the New England Revolution. And trust me... the Krafts have identified themselves as such since long before Precourt's Columbus Crew-to-Austin machinations began.

Of course, given the Krafts' indifferent stewardship of the Revolution, the fact that they share said distinction with Precourt shouldn't put the minds of Crew supporters at ease.    

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Wow, thanks for this WLAF behind the scenes info.  I was a big fan of the league, I have some Thunder gear and the 91 and 92 card sets.

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11 hours ago, Brian in Boston said:

 

Anthony Precourt is not alone in identifying himself as a Major League Soccer investor/operator. He's joined by Robert K. Kraft and Jonathan A. Kraft of the New England Revolution. And trust me... the Krafts have identified themselves as such since long before Precourt's Columbus Crew-to-Austin machinations began.

Of course, given the Krafts' indifferent stewardship of the Revolution, the fact that they share said distinction with Precourt shouldn't put the minds of Crew supporters at ease.    

 

The Krafts will probably ignore the Revolution the very day Tom Brady retires in a year or two. 

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On 9/1/2018 at 8:58 PM, Ferdinand Cesarano said:

In MLS, the teams don't have owners; the various ownership groups are called "investor-operators". Each group invests in the league, becoming a part owner of it; and each is given the right to operate a team.

 

The problem is transparency. In MLS, all players are signed to the league, not to any team. But the league allows the teams to trade the players as though the teams were the employers. We just have to trust that the league itself is not orchestrating player movement. In the current-day MLS, this is certainly the case, even if the league imposed certain player moves in the early days.

 

P.S. - The single-entity league structure should be illegal.

MLS is a limited liability company with 27 members, 26 of whom either currently or will in the future operate teams.  One member who helped financially stake the league's very inception but who didn't choose to operate a team is the 27th, and over the years his ownership stake has diluted to a point where he has less than a 2% ownership interest in the venture.

 

At one time or another, Phil Anschutz has controlled the operations of nine of the leagues teams, and IIRC there was one year where pretty much the entire league was being fronted by Anschutz and Lamar Hunt (Hunt operating three teams, Kraft one, and Anschutz the rest).  MLS skirted anti-trust laws through its "single entity" structure (see Fraser v. MLS) and as a result is empowered to involuntarily allocate players within the league as it sees fit.  Such moves always required a 2/3rds vote of the LLC's members, which made it easier then but nearly impossible to pull off now unless both teams involved consent to a deal.

 

Unlike in other leagues though, MLS expansion teams aren't split amongst the existing operators (team owners).  They're kept by MLS because even 23 years in their cash burn rate is significant.  Some teams show an annual profit, but they still have mountains of debt on those soccer-specific stadia and annual revenues just aren't enough to cover it all.  It wouldn't surprise me to see MLS reach 32 or even more teams by 2030, to go bust, or to contract to be somewhere in between.

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9 hours ago, Mac the Knife said:

At one time or another, Phil Anschutz has controlled the operations of nine of the leagues teams, and IIRC there was one year where pretty much the entire league was being fronted by Anschutz and Lamar Hunt (Hunt operating three teams, Kraft one, and Anschutz the rest).


If memory serves me, Phil Anschutz - through Anschutz Entertainment Group - has operated seven Major League Soccer franchises: Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire, Los Angeles Galaxy, DC United, New York/New Jersey MetroStars, San Jose Earthquakes, and Houston Dynamo. In fact, it can be said that AEG has technically operated six franchises, since the original  Earthquakes were relocated to Houston and left behind their original branding and records for use by a subsequent expansion team.

Still, as you point out, there was a time when Phil Anschutz was supporting the operation of a majority of Major League Soccer's franchise. During the 2003 MLS season, AEG was the sole investor/operator of the Rapids, Fire, Galaxy, DC United, and MetroStars, while sharing responsibilities for the Earthquakes with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment. By the time the 2004 MLS season had rolled around, AEG was in complete control of all six of said teams - fully 60% of Major League Soccer's membership at the time.   

There's a reason that the winners of MLS Cup are presented the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.

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1 hour ago, Brian in Boston said:

If memory serves me, Phil Anschutz - through Anschutz Entertainment Group - has operated seven Major League Soccer franchises: Colorado Rapids, Chicago Fire, Los Angeles Galaxy, DC United, New York/New Jersey MetroStars, San Jose Earthquakes, and Houston Dynamo. In fact, it can be said that AEG has technically operated six franchises, since the original  Earthquakes were relocated to Houston and left behind their original branding and records for use by a subsequent expansion team.

Still, as you point out, there was a time when Phil Anschutz was supporting the operation of a majority of Major League Soccer's franchise. During the 2003 MLS season, AEG was the sole investor/operator of the Rapids, Fire, Galaxy, DC United, and MetroStars, while sharing responsibilities for the Earthquakes with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment. By the time the 2004 MLS season had rolled around, AEG was in complete control of all six of said teams - fully 60% of Major League Soccer's membership at the time.   

There's a reason that the winners of MLS Cup are presented the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy.

Brian I'll take your numbers over mine regarding Phil Anschutz; I honestly have never followed the league's ownership that closely to accurately say who owned what when.  I know he and Lamar Hunt single-handedly kept it alive for quite some period of time though.  I'm fortunate enough to have a copy of the Operating Agreement behind MLS, and despite going through it several times there are aspects of its operations I still haven't quite figured out.

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Hey Guys:

 

The NFL picked badly for WLAF owners. George Shinn dumped the franchise (what else is new) and the league ran the team in Columbus (one of the best logos ever - I have a game worn helmet and two game-worn jerseys). The Maloofs were looking for a way to get in the NFL, and wanted to move Birmingham to Houston if the league came back for year 3. George Speros wanted a team in Washington DC for year 3.  It was a total s**t show. If the NFL took as much care to vet the owners and vet the cities – I mean really study American football in European markets, i think they would have one up with different markets and could have stayed around. We all know how the Italian sports minister pissed off Schramm. France would never have worked because French cultural laws dictate French music must be played 80% of the time in any venue. I believe Marseilles was way ahead in development. If they studied the markets properly, I would hope they would have gone with a 12-team market:

 

North America

NY/NJ

Monterrey

Montreal

Orlando/Birmingham/Memphis 

San Antonio

Sacramento

 

Europe

London (2 teams)

Milan

Stockholm

Geneva

Frankfurt

 

If they had someone like a salary cap guru working in finance (call them a currency guru), they would be an expert in currency hedging and it would have saved the league a ton of money. Also consider the office was in an expensive building on Madison Avenue and not the NFL offices,  and again regarding franchises, they went after big cities that had little interest in American football, like Barcelona. Also, London was jaded. They didn't want to turn out for minor league football. Montreal had no CFL team at the time, but then again, it took years for Montreal to have any sort of an interest in football. And Montreal is a tough sell for any team unless you are named the Canadiens. Sacramento's plans for a stadium weren't even on the drawing board yet. 

 

Maybe if they waited a couple of years things would have worked out. 

 

I remember a couple of teams cameleer to the CFL, but that experiment lasted what, 2 years?

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Not that I don't love the WLAF inside scoop, but this is a thread about the AAF.   So, could we wind our way back to the Alliance?

 

My question now, with everyone expecting the name, identity and logo roll out this month, does the AAF do this as one big press conference or do they spread it out over a couple of weeks, with each team having a roll out announcement with a few key players on hand to perhaps model the uniforms?

 

What's your best guess?

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