SBJ/20090504/This Week's News

AFL briefing team owners on new biz model

Armed with a new business model, Arena Football League officials are huddling with team owners in hopes of convincing them of the league’s future viability.

On April 20, AFL owners delayed by a month a vote to formally approve a new four-year collective-bargaining agreement, to allow for more time to complete plans for a new centralized structure. Now, with the new structure near completion, the AFL’s executive board plans to spend the next few weeks briefing team owners of the specifics. A vote could come by May 18 if not sooner.

“We are now meeting individually with the owners to walk them though the business plan and the proposed model,” said Ed Policy, formerly the acting AFL commissioner and now a consultant with the league.

The framework of the AFL’s new centralized service model calls for outsourcing of league and business services such as ticket sales, marketing, sponsorships sales and public relations. The AFL will also probably hire a chief executive to run the league’s business operations. But the AFL has yet to choose any specific vendors and won’t search for a CEO until owners decide the fate of the league.

“We are still working on the relaunch,” said Columbus Destroyers owner Jim Renacci, who is leading the reorganization effort. Renacci added that there is no hard deadline in place for a 2010 relaunch, though AFL owners approved an extension through May 20 with the AFL Players Association. It is the second extension of the vote after the league and its union agreed in principle to the new CBA in March.

The extension comes after Los Angeles Avengers owner Casey Wasserman terminated his agreement with the AFL after nine seasons, which followed the New Orleans VooDoo terminating its agreement with the AFL in October 2008.

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