SBD/Issue 238/Franchises

UFL Commish Says Expansion Nighthawks Are Becoming Model Team


UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said that he is "surprised by the response the Omaha Nighthawks have received since their mid-April inception," according to Steven Pivovar of the Omaha WORLD-HERALD. Huyghue: "I thought this would be a vibrant area, but not in my wildest dreams did I think there would be this much enthusiasm this quickly. We haven't had another franchise adopted like this market. ... It would be easy to say we'd like Las Vegas to be our model franchise, but the truth of the matter is, from all statistical standpoints, it's here." The UFL's four teams during last year's inaugural season averaged 9,678 fans per game. The Nighthawks, who open their season Sept. 24 at Rosenblatt Stadium, already have sold "more than 8,000 season tickets." Nighthawks Dir of Business Operations Don Igo said that a "recent spike in sales following last week's signing of quarterback Jeff Garcia pushed the team past the 8,000 mark." Huyghue said that the team's signings of former NFLers like Garcia and RB Ahman Green "have helped the franchise establish credibility." Huyghue: "That's what we have to continue to do, so that people know that this league is attractive to high-level, NFL-caliber football players and not just guys on the bubble" (Omaha WORLD-HERALD, 8/24).

JUST A BUMP IN THE ROAD: In Virginia, Dave Fairbank reported the UFL "insists that it's still coming" to the Norfolk area despite Virginia businessman and prospective team owner Jim Speros and the league walking "away from the negotiating table last week." It is "13 months before the local team plays its first game," and sources said that the issue is "ownership and contractual, not desire or commitment." Speros said that the "impasse with the UFL was a business decision born of poor timing," as he "wanted more control than the UFL was willing to cede at this time." He said that he "still might be involved with the franchise at some future date, and that he won't burn his contact list." But Fairbank wrote it is a "bit unsettling when a start-up that's just finding its footing cannot make a go with the guy who delivered the market and did the initial legwork" (Newport News DAILY PRESS, 8/24).

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