SBD/February 22, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

UFL Facing Critical Year In '11 As Execs Look For Long-Term Success

The UFL begins season with losses for the five-team league approaching $50M
Though UFL officials said that they “remain convinced they have a sound business plan that can make the league a long-term success, it does appear 2011 could well be a make-or-break season for the league,” according to Henry Cordes of the Omaha WORLD-HERALD. The league said that the Omaha Nighthawks lost $7-8M last season, part of “total losses for the five-team league approaching” $50M. The UFL during the ’10 season had $6M “in unpaid bills league-wide, including some months-delayed paychecks to Nighthawks support staffers and more than $200,000 owed to the Omaha hotel that served as the team's home base.” Nighthawks coach Joe Moglia said that what “everyone needs to understand is that the UFL is a startup business,” and like any startup was “bound to face losses in early years as it laid its foundation.” He said that the UFL “right now lacks two things it ultimately needs to succeed.” The “biggest is a lucrative network TV contract.” Moglia said that the league also “needs more investors," something it has "not pushed hard enough for.” Cordes noted the "first sign of the league's financial troubles came in January when the Orlando-based Florida Tuskers closed up shop after a year of mediocre attendance.” Days later, Mavericks Owner and UFL investor Mark Cuban “sued the league over an unpaid $5 million loan.” UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said that “while ‘significant’ losses are expected again” this year, the league's investors are “committed to absorbing those costs to help the league become established.” The league is also “looking to cut costs, including a slight cut in team roster sizes.” A network TV contract “remains critical long-term, and the UFL may hold a wild card in its pursuit of one.” UFL Communications Dir Michael Preston said that the league is “currently in talks with major networks over rights to UFL games should the NFL not begin play as scheduled this fall” (Omaha WORLD-HERALD, 2/20).
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