SBD/Issue 111/Leagues & Governing Bodies

AFL To Consider Single-Entity Ownership To Lower Costs

The AFL is considering a "single-entity ownership structure, which league officials believe would help lower costs and attract investors," according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The AFL, which posted a $24M operating loss in '07,  is now structured as a limited liability corporation, in which each team is "counted as a member of the corporation and operates independently." While the league has not finalized its proposed structural changes, they "could range from a simple consolidation of services to having league investors buying franchises from owners and forming a centralized operation." AFL Commissioner David Baker: "Clearly, we have grown. Franchise values have grown and we are reaching a point to where we are looking to centralize some services, work on profitability and grow in a way that is going to bring a different economic model. We have turned the corner from looking at each team as its own economic unit to looking at the league as an entire economic unit." Galatioto Sports Partners Founder Sal Galatioto said that one key to a successful single-entity league structure is "to give team owners independence." Galatioto: "As long as the team owners can run the franchise as they want and they get a share of the league, it can work. It is more of a way to keep operating costs down." While the league did not disclose the vote count among owners to approve the single-entity conversion study, Baker said that the ownership group is "now changing how it views the league's operations." Baker: "Our brand has begun to get some respect and our owners are becoming more interested not just in their own operations, but also in what the other guys are doing" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/25 issue).

Baker Says ArenaBowl Will Return
To New Orleans This Season
BAKER, LIVE: Baker appeared Tuesday on ESPN2's "First Take" and talked about new impact indicators on helmets of AFL players that would help prevent serious head injuries. Baker: "Safety is always a big issue for us and the safety for our players is paramount." Baker also noted the Arena Bowl will be in New Orleans for a second straight year ("First Take," ESPN2, 2/26). Baker also recorded an in-arena announcement that will be played before all league games and taped an interview for ESPN2's AFL preview show, which will air tomorrow night (AFL).

ESPN ANNOUNCING TEAMS: ESPN will televise 29 games this season, including 18 regular-season contests. Bob Wischusen will pair with Shaun King and Marcellus Wiley to form the net's No. 1 broadcast team. Dave Pasch and Joe Tessitore will also serve as play-by-play commentators, while Ray Bentley will also serve as an analyst (ESPN).

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