Sign in to follow this  
Mac the Knife

Arena Football League Gets New Commissioner; Fan Yawns

Recommended Posts

This was a long time coming. This is basically the Jaworski and  Leonsis football league now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, they made a mistake with Scott Butera to begin with.  They were looking for fresh ideas and in Butera they found them; it's just that those ideas couldn't be executed.  And that, oddly, wasn't Butera's fault, but that of two of his predecessors - David Baker and Jerry Kurz.  Between those two they absolutely buried the AFL brand, to a point beyond redemption without a generational-length break.

 

Arena Football isn't dead as a sport, but it's on the same level as indoor soccer now - and both would honestly be better served if someone drowned them, every league, every team, for a generation.  There are leagues which, when they fail, that failure is almost imperviously perceived with respect to the sport it promoted (though my personal and sentimental favorite, the USFL's demise far from brought about a demise in public interest of professional football).  Then there are leagues like the original NASL, AFL and MISL (or whatever it's calling itself this week) - leagues whose failures are huge, loud sirens that scream "This sport doesn't have a business model that works.  Don't try fixing it on the fly.  Take some time off and re-think everything."

 

The NASL killed professional outdoor soccer for a decade, and only through an entire generation's worth of sustained, exceptionally well-planned execution by Major League Soccer has it only now brought the pro game to the popularity levels it had in, say, 1981.  It took MLS a decade of (relative) operational stability and losing pretty close to a half billion dollars to merely reach a point of public acceptance and respectability - just to fix the damage the NASL had done.

 

Indoor soccer could be popular in U.S. markets again, but for that to happen (i) it has to be reimagined, and more important, (ii) the original version of it, with all its vestiges, must be dead and buried for a while.  The same is true with Arena/indoor football.  I attended an AFL game in Raleigh where a team (albeit the wrong one) scored 99 points.  By chance I came across an IFL game where the score was 20-13 at halftime; hell, I can see that in the CFL.

 

Riddick isn't the Commissioner the AFL needs.  He's the one that'll do Ted Leonsis' bidding, which is fine enough I suppose until Leonsis decides his toys in Baltimore and Washington aren't worth playing with anymore (I give that another year, maybe two).  They've both openly admitted that the AFL is about to see a lot of gimmickry - another sure sign that death is likely.  At this point I'm paying attention more to see who winds up with the AFL's intellectual property assets in the next bankruptcy proceeding (presuming anyone actually would want them).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Call me crazy, but maybe it's time for the Arena League to become more of a regional league instead of trying to be a national league.

 

The other indoor football leagues are regional based (UIF and UFL are in the Midwest, NAL and AAL are on the East Coast). Maybe it's high time to focus on that to help keep it alive for the time being.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah, I'm with Mac. Let it die. I was in love with the AFL, but pretty much everything since the bankruptcy has been a tarnishing embarrassment. This should have ended long before a team got fired three hours before a game at an Olive Garden, long before Vince Neil skidded on his face through two-thirds of a season. It's past parody now, and while I think there is something good and fun and national and living-wage paying that can still be done with indoor football, it is never happening as long as this four-team onanism bumbles along.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was fun in the 90's and early 00's but it's time to put it to rest. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Seadragon76 said:

Call me crazy, but maybe it's time for the Arena League to become more of a regional league instead of trying to be a national league.

 

The other indoor football leagues are regional based (UIF and UFL are in the Midwest, NAL and AAL are on the East Coast). Maybe it's high time to focus on that to help keep it alive for the time being.

 

Look around.  It's already at a regionalization stage.  And two of the leagues you mention?  They don't exist anymore.  Which in a weird way, kind of proves my point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right... I meant to say CIF and IFL, not UIF and UFL.

 

Either way, the point still stands. It's probably for the best to become a regional league.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 There is a new Commissioner. Hopefully, he can undo what Scott Butera destroyed. He has said that he wants to add teams

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually I think if anything, they need to unify and "re-nationalize."  The problem is that there are so many egos involved that you'd need a Pete Rozelle/Kenesaw Mountain Landis figure to step in and play daddy to get it done.

 

How I'd personally do it, giving the matter about as much thought as it's taking me to type this out?  (and probably indicative of how my mind works in a sort of Bill Blazejowski manner)...

 

1.  Shut down everything for 2019, in all markets, in all leagues, announcing that the sport will return with an entirely new structure for 2020.

 

2.  Organize a series of new entities, some for profit, some not:

--- Arena Football United, Inc., a non-profit membership corporation of which every franchise operator, regardless of previous league affiliation, is an equal member.

--- Arena Football Holdings, LLC, a holding company that'll be useful later.

--- Arena Football Licensing, LLC, a for profit entity that handles all aspects of league branding, licensing and merchandising.  And I mean all - right down to dictating team names to franchisees.

--- Arena Football Logistics, LLC, a for profit (but not really) entity that handles all aspects of league logistics (e.g., team travel, hotel accommodations, player travel if he's traded, preseason training camp organization, gameday logistics).

--- Arena Football Media, LLC, a for profit entity that handles all television, radio, publishing, direct to consumer and over the top content, right down to the media guides and game programs.

--- Arena Football Partners, LLC, a second holding company... again, it'll be useful later.

--- Arena Football Players, LLC, a third holding company... again, useful later.  Stay with me.

--- The Teams Themselves, each of which are also organized as LLC's.

 

Now...

3.  Arena Football United operates four leagues:  one national (the Arena Football League), and three regional (the American Arena League, National Arena League, and the Indoor Football League).  Each team pays a nominal amount (enough to cover league office expenses, plus 20%) in annual membership dues.  At the end of each year, the fourth place team in each division of the Arena Football League is relegated to the AAL, NAL or IFL, while that league's champion is promoted as their replacement, giving Arena Football the distinction of being the first to actually incorporate promotion/relegation into its structure.

 

4.  Arena Football Holdings represents all team owners as a collective group, with each owning an equal stake.  Arena Football Players (see below) also holds a stake equal to that of one team.  Arena Football Holdings, in turn, owns a 40% equity (non-voting) ownership interest in each and every team.  In short, if you're the 'owner' of the Arizona Rattlers, you only own 60% of the team, but you also own a percentage of every other team, in every other league playing the game.  This eliminates any need of traditional revenue sharing, forces everyone to work collaboratively rather than competitively, keeps player costs down (because why bid against essentially yourself?), and mitigates any financial consequences associated with promotion and relegation (such as occurs in an EPL to Champions League situation).  

 

5.  Arena Football Licensing owns, controls, licenses and merchandises all league and team brands.  It's ownership is held (i) 70% by Arena Football Holdings, LLC, (ii) 20% by Arena Football Players, and (iii) 10% by Arena Football Partners.  All licensing and merchandising is handled by this entity, making it unnecessary for teams to have dedicated resources to this except to sell merch on game days.

 

6.  Based on an annual budget, each team, regardless of league, commits an equal amount as a capital contribution to Arena Football Logistics.  This makes it unnecessary for teams to coordinate their own logistics and allows the league to make significant deals based on economies of scale (e.g., signing a Delta Airlines as the "Official Airline of Arena Football" in exchange for free air travel for AFL teams, or otherwise when it's required).  This entity is entirely owned and funded by team operators, in equal share.  There are no profits, only losses to be written off against (hopefully) gains made elsewhere.

 

Also... Arena Football Logistics handles one additional matter:  a centralized, single-site, organization-wide player evaluation, testing, and training facility - a combination player combine/training camp, prior to each season.  Rather than having each team conduct separate training camps in separate locations, you gather them all together, in the same spot (say, Salina, Kansas, if you want 'em all in the middle of the country for some reason).  Players, coaches, talent evaluators.  Every team sending a certain number of players there.  The first week, you're conducting a combine, providing every team with a baseline of information about every attendee.  The second week, you're in classrooms, training these guys on game fundamentals, but moreso on how they should behave as showmen - interacting with fans, doing the community service BS, buying into the concept that as part of the team, they're part of the community, etc.  The third through sixth weeks, you're doing organization-wide drills, deliberately separating players from their team units yet having them work together, as if they were one team.  Coaches and player evaluation staffers at this point are looking at everyone, not necessarily just the guys they sent to the camp.

 

At the end of six weeks?  All the teams personnel people get together in a single room.  Each team posts a 15-man roster, with everyone else placed in a free agent pool.  Those players not 'protected' are then eligible to be drafted, by any team, NFL-style, with the order being determined by previous season record in their respective league but rotating which league gets the first pick year to year (e.g., the worst IFL team gets the #1 overall in year one, the worst AAL team gets it in year two, the worst NAL team gets it in year three).  The teams in those three leagues then go through five rounds to bring their rosters up to 20 players.  Then, the AFL teams add 5 players each from whatever talent remains in the free agent pool - a process that helps even out the talent somewhat, facilitating promotion and relegation should it occur.

 

7.  Arena Football Media produces all live game productions, offering it free via direct to consumer, live streaming content.  It then sells in-game advertising to cover production costs and hopefully generate profit.  It's ownership is held (i) 60% by Arena Football Holdings, LLC, (ii) 25% by Arena Football Players, and (iii) 15% by Arena Football Partners.

 

8.  Arena Football Partners represents everyone - game officials, front office personnel, fans, anyone who wants to buy into the sport but who doesn't have the jack to put into a team themselves.  While it holds no direct ownership in a team, it holds minority stakes in its licensing arm (10%), enticing people to buy merch; and it holds 15% of the media company, encouraging them to interact more with its corporate partners and 'consume more content.'  You can buy into Arena Football Partners for a comparatively token sum (say, $100 per ownership unit) or be awarded ownership interests as a bonus (e.g., a team's sales staffer doubles his ticket sales quota for the month).

 

9.  Arena Football Players represents current and former players.  Rather than have potential labor issues, lockouts and strikes, you now have players with direct, vested financial interest in the game's continuation and success, thanks to an equal share of AF Holdings, a 20% stake in the licensing entity, and a 25% stake in the media company.  With every ticket sold?  The players benefit.  With every sponsor that's signed up?  The players benefit.  With every piece of merch they see worn by a fan in the stands?  They know there's a coin in their pocket.

 

Under such a structure, the whole enterprise would take on an "all for one, one for all" approach in which everyone involved in the league, from the Ted Leonsis types to the guy who sweeps up the arena after a game concludes, can have a financial stake, direct or indirect, in the enterprise, rather than just a paycheck.  Arena Football immediately re-places itself in the national spotlight due to its unique ownership/operating structure.  Team owners, now owning a part of every other team, give more scrutiny to what their (now literal) partners are doing, imposing a little discipline among their ranks.  Players, now with an ownership stake, don't allow their union head to run amok and threaten a labor stoppage.  Fans through Arena Football Partners can take a sort of "Green Bay Packer Shareholder" mindset with whatever team they care to root for.  And so on, and so on.

Edited by Mac the Knife
Edited to add league combine/training/draft concept

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Mac the Knife I think you've put more thought into this than the real commissioner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DP, whatever you're selling, I'm buying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, NYUNDERDOGS said:

...For now lets just enjoy the last season of the AFL 2.0

 

You promise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Sodboy13 said:

DP, whatever you're selling, I'm buying.

 

I will be selling something, and perhaps soon.  But be ready to dig deep if and when...  :)

 

Really though, my concept isn't that big a tweak from what some of the major leagues are doing right now.  It's just rejiggered into a format that reflects the state of Arena/indoor football, and includes everyone involved in league/team operations to either (i) benefit in some fashion, or at the very least (ii) understand why they aren't benefitting, because everyone would have access to the financials involved.

 

The only real change that'd be necessary would be one of mindset:  first, changing the mindset of owners that they're all in it not just for themselves but each other; that the only place they'd compete would be on the fields themselves.  And second, giving everyone involved a vested interest in the overall success of the organization, encouraging talented people to stay.  Staff turnover at minor league sports teams is HUGE, because everyone's looking for the next step up; it's understandable.  A guy sits in a glorified trailer or a cubicle cold-calling people trying to sell ticket packages and earns $18K plus a 7% commission is going to look for the next thing; but if he's in an environment where on top of that he gets a small chunk of other pieces of the pie - even a miniscule one - it might get him to stay on board and stay at least within the league as he advances in his career.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Mac the Knife said:

3.  Arena Football United operates four leagues:  one national (the Arena Football League), and three regional (the American Arena League, National Arena League, and the Indoor Football League).  Each team pays a nominal amount (enough to cover league office expenses, plus 20%) in annual membership dues.  At the end of each year, the fourth place team in each division of the Arena Football League is relegated to the AAL, NAL or IFL, while that league's champion is promoted as their replacement, giving Arena Football the distinction of being the first to actually incorporate promotion/relegation into its structure.

This is brilliant. And honestly, it might be the only way to make this sport interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, gosioux76 said:

This is brilliant. And honestly, it might be the only way to make this sport interesting.

 

Thank you, but the only way that part of it works is if all of it were to be implemented.  Otherwise, the financial disparities would be such that any team dropping out of the top-tier league would be better off financially folding than trying to claw back.  The smaller the financial gap between the top tier league and its second tier counterparts?  The better.  In what I proposed above, the only real gap would be caused by a potential attendance drop-off, but even that's mitigated to an extent because everyone's sharing from the same pie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this