U.S. Investors Back American Football League In India
Chicago-based investment banking firm Madison Street Capital has become the official financial advisory partner of the Elite Football League of India, which launches later this summer, according to CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. The eight-team league, backed by the Indian government and made up of players from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who have been trained by U.S. coaches, is "the country's first attempt at organized professional American football." So far, it has lured some prominent outside investors, including former NFL Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, actor Mark Wahlberg and former NFL stars Kurt Warner, Ron Jaworski and Michael Irvin, among others. Much of the EFLI will be modeled after the Indian Premier League, "especially on the marketing front." The IPL has a 10-year, $2B broadcasting contract with India-based TEN Sports. Also like the IPL, all of the games will be played at one venue, Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, India, the second largest non-auto-racing stadium in the world with a capacity of 120,000. ELFI CEO Richard Whelan said, "The demand for this entertainment is off the charts." Whelan estimated that the league will cost around $2.5M to run, including the financial backing of all eight teams, which "he plans to auction off to independent owners if the league grows" (CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 6/29).