So, Yeah, This Should Go Well
See if you think these clips from three of the four cities in the league have anything in common.
From the Review-Journal in Las Vegas, home to the twice-champion Locomotives:
“There is a four-team league, a national TV contract and a schedule, announced Wednesday. Now all the Locomotives need is a place to play their fourth United Football League season and players to represent them on the field, wherever that field might be.”
From the Sacramento Bee, noting the return of the Mountain Lions:
“They don’t have a head coach, a roster or a home field, but the Mountain Lions of the United Football League are scheduled to play their first game of the 2012 season on the road against the Las Vegas Locomotives on Wednesday, Sept. 19.”
From the World-Herald in Omaha, where the Nighthawks have been one of the (relative) success stories in the short life of the UFL:
“The Omaha Nighthawks have a schedule. Now, all they need is a coach, a place to play, some players, a support staff and somewhere to sell tickets. Then they’ll be ready to open their United Football League season.”
So, basically, six weeks out and three-quarters of the league has no place to play (among other things, though you can always find players and coaches). That’s not troubling at all, right? I mean, they’re on TV, and they’re playing on (shades of the old WFL) Wednesday and Friday nights so as not to conflict with college or NFL football. That’s all you need, right?
No, that’s not all you need.
This is a league that has averaged just over 13,000 fans per game through its first three “seasons” (none of which has consisted of more than 20 total games), and that’s with some lead time to, you know, get their act together and sell tickets. They still owe creditors millions of dollars, they’re apparently being sued by a former coach (and, trust me, when Dennis Green thinks you’re shady, you’re shady), they have no Commissioner or centralized power structure, and, as noted, have a dearth of actual players and coaches (save Las Vegas’ Jim Fassel, The World’s Most Optimistic Man and Marty Schottenheimer) or front office staffs.
Other than that, they’re right on track.
Now, I’m on the record as being a sucker for alternate leagues, but this is going to be a disaster (even more so than its prior shenanigans). Playing on Wednesday nights in the fall? (And a Tuesday and a Thursday?) All four of Las Vegas’ home games (which, again, don’t have a place to be held in just yet) are on Wednesday nights and they’ve averaged 9,594 fans per game – announced – playing largely on Saturdays.
The UFL was banking on the 2011 NFL season being truncated or cancelled, but I have zero idea what they’re banking on now. That Americans love football? Yes, yes they do. But they love NFL and college football, and they don’t need this. If the people in Omaha like having their own pro team, God bless. But why spend – and lose – millions providing it to them when there is no endgame, no hope of this working? I don’t get it.