AFL Rush Owner Out After Three Months; Was Bounced Rent Check The Reason?
Former AFL Chicago Rush Owner David Staral Jr. yesterday said that his past legal issues, which include three felony convictions, a pending Chapter 7 bankruptcy and an incident leaving him on probation for theft, had "nothing to do with what he says was his decision to 'walk away' from the team last week," according to Janssen & Gruen of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. He added that he "never expected his criminal background to be a big problem in owning" the team. Staral said he "never lied" about his background during negotiations to buy the team in February, but added "nobody ever asked" about it. Janssen & Gruen report Staral's record includes "benefit fraud and two convictions for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a former employer." He "refused to discuss the specifics of his fallout with the league, which he said was covered by a confidentiality agreement" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/8). In Chicago, Robert Channick notes among Staral's "first moves was paying $50,000 to secure the Allstate Arena for the first two home games." Allstate Arena GM Pat Nagle said that trouble "began when the next $50,000 check to secure the team's third and fourth home games bounced." Staral said that "weak attendance contributed to his difficulties, along with sponsorships and investment partners that failed to materialize." But Nagle said that Staral's financial history was "something league officials should have known about." Meanwhile, Channick notes the Rush are under league control. That is a "familiar position" for the team, as the league "ran the Rush last season after the team's previous owners abandoned it in 2011." Testarossa Entertainment Owner Julee White in November bought the team for $1M, but lasted "only two months with an undercapitalized ownership group" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/8).
THE SHOW MUST GO ON: AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz yesterday said that the Arizona Rattlers' game in Chicago on May 19 "will be played." Kurz: "Nothing has been canceled. Arizona is coming in for a game at AllState. The team is not going away. The season will be played. We never not put out a game in Chicago." Kurz added that he "feels the league will prosper and get through the Rush ownership ordeal." Kurz: "The Rush never missed a game. No player has missed a paycheck. No player will miss a paycheck. No player in the history of the league has ever missed a paycheck. And it won’t start now" (AZCENTRAL.com, 5/7).