Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Football 102: The BFL (Brian's Football League)

What's Playing in my Head: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2

Quote of the Day: "So you get NOTHING! You LOSE! Good DAY, sir! ", Willy Wonka (aka Gene Wilder)

Lone reader Mediocre Fred replied to yesterday's post about creating some competition for the NFL. Thus spake the MF'er:

In order for this to work, I'd privilege cities that don't already have teams (since it would be easier to get a foothold there). Here's what I'd try:

New York (because you have to)

Los Angeles
San Antonio
Las Vegas

This league alignment is weak in the northeast, so if you wanted to leave off, say, Birmingham or Orlando and add Columbus (Ohio Stadium) or maybe even Philly or Detroit, I wouldn't argue.

I think he's got a generally workable league, but I'd go with the following cities myself:

New York - A given. Any new league would have to have New York to get TV networks on board and raise the value of the league TV contract. Good thing is that NYC has 20 million plus in its metro area, and only two football teams. There's room for one more. (I solidly believe that Donald Trump would have had a winner with the New Jersey Generals if the USFL would have started in the fall from the beginning) Shea Stadium's sight lines are good for football, though the place hasn't been used for it in 30 years.

Los Angeles - Another given. See New York. A big part of having a successful LA team would be in the location - the LA Coliseum would be the most central, but also would suffer from its size (it'd be almost impossible to sell out a 90,000+ seat stadium for a new league). The Home Depot Center in Carson might be a better place to start, since it's already hosted high school football games, has a smaller size (~30K, easier to sell out), and is pretty much just as far from LA as Anaheim and Orange County. Just don't even have a weeknight game there.

Washington - Here's my wild card. Ten years ago, when the Redskins were owned by The Jack, there wouldn't have been the desire or the political will to have competition come in to challenge them. Yeah, the money was there, and DC is football-obsessed, but everyone wanted to be a part of the Redskins at RFK. Now, The Danny has pissed off so many Redskins fans, even though he's selling out, there's still a large, frustrated and pissed group of fans who: a) gave up their Skins season tickets, and/or b) want an alternative. The alternative could play at RFK Stadium (with some renovations) as early as 2008, when the Washington Nationals move to a new ballpark. RFK could be sold out again, with creative promotions that challenge the establishment, plus some actual, reasonable ticket prices (ie, not pricing half the area out of the market like certain other teams in town).

Detroit - Okay, hear me out here. One, Detroit is a large metro area, with over 4 million people. Two, the Lions blow hard - if you give Detroit sports fans an alternative at this point, any alternative, it's got to look pretty good. Three, a new team could easily buy Tiger Stadium and put in some bucks for renovation, saving the stadium from demolition and creating an old-time football stadium that's close to the hearts of Detroit fans. Of course, if that doesn't work, there's always the Pontiac Silverdome...

Memphis - A small town, but one that drew pretty well with the Showboats of the USFL, and draws an average of over 40K for Memphis Tigers football (ie, college).

Las Vegas - The market the NFL won't touch. Obviously, there's money here, and if the new league could get UNLV on board with leasing their stadium on off-weekends, there's an opportunity. The team could start off by selling drastically-reduced price season tickets with game packages (ie, drinks, pre-game meals, etc.) to the major casinos, which could use the tickets as comps and rewards. Then run bus service from the Strip before every home game. Add some showgirls and get the local media behind the team, and you're in business.

Portland - Like Memphis, this is a pretty small town. But it only has one major professional sports team, and a stadium that could easily be sold out, even if it was set up in an expanded football configuration (it'd seat about 30,000). Plus, Portland has shown good support for Oregon and Oregon State football, and it's a pretty well-off city. This is definitely worth a shot.

San Antonio - The love of football in Texas is legendary. San Antonio's been angling for an NFL team for a while now, and with the Saints coming to town last year, they showed that they can at least decently support a pro team. The Alamodome desperately needs a tenant, and the local media is ripe for supporting a local football team. This is a win-win all around.

So the BFL would look like this:

New York

Los Angeles
Las Vegas
San Antonio

Next time, I'll go into media stuff and the TV contract. When I'm more awake.


At September 27, 2006 10:59 AM, Anonymous Mediocre Fred said...

Wow, Federals II! Bold idea. I suspect it would fail inside two seasons, just because I don't think the new team could get the media oxygen necessary to survive. I mean, the Skins haven't been serious contenders for a solid decade-plus, and still, if Joe Gibbs sneezes at mini-camp, it's front-page news. Front page of the A section, not the sports section.

I'm with you on Detroit, because I don't have the sense that the Lions are the all-consuming force in Detroit that the Skins are in DC. I would still argue that Birmingham is a better long-term bet than Washington. (However, I would absolutely show up for Federals games. So, basically, I'm proof against my own argument.)


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