SBD/June 25, 2013/Franchises

AFL Utah Blaze Counting On Financial Help From New Investor After Eviction From Arena

There is no contingency plan for the Blaze's Saturday home game
The AFL Utah Blaze are "expecting a cash infusion from a new investor" that will allow the team to continue playing home games at EnergySolutions Arena and "put a messy situation behind it," according to Christopher Kamrani of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. The Blaze were evicted from the arena last Thursday after failing to "pay a reported $120,000 in rent obligations." The team also is "receiving financial assistance from the AFL to help meet its payroll obligations." Blaze Owner Kim Brown on Friday said that she has been "courting the investor, an unnamed Chicago-based real estate developer, since March." Brown added that the new partner is in the "final phase of analyzing the league, the franchise and its finances before officially signing." Brown said that AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz is expected to come to Utah this week to meet with venue owner the Larry H. Miller Group to "continue talks of how the organization can help the Blaze going forward." Brown added that the Blaze are "not the only franchise in the league receiving financial assistance from the AFL." Kamrani noted that if and when the new investor signs on, the Miller Group "has promised the Blaze re-entry" to the venue. Brown said of resources a new investor would bring to the team, "It’s millions. ... It’s a (significant) amount. It will get us through this season and allow us to set up a structure where we can start making money for next season." Asked if she was worried about a place to play Saturday's home game, Brown said that there is "no contingency plan" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/22). Kurz said that the situation was "unfortunate." Kurz: "This is not the normal course for the Arena Football League, but all businesses nowadays are faced with challenges here and there. ... If you run around like your hair is on fire, I don’t know how anyone survives business or life" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/23).

PICK & CHOOSE: In Utah, Brad Rock wrote keeping a "foothold in the marketplace is difficult, even for a team such as the Blaze, who have been around awhile." There are a "lot of challenges, beyond the debts Brown reportedly inherited when she became principal owner last winter." Arena football is a "good deal for the price, but as cash gets tight, people start deciding one or the other." It is "going to be a lot of work for the Blaze, with or without an infusion of investor money." Even with an "entertaining product, and even in the 'down' season, it's hard to find a place for one more sport" (DESERETNEWS.com, 6/24).
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