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  • Arena League eyes Salt Lake for possible expansion

    By Aaron Cole
    Deseret Morning News

    Among the bevy of current major-league franchise rumors in Salt Lake City, add one more: an Arena Football League team.
    An AFL spokesperson confirmed Monday that an ownership group from Salt Lake City has contacted the league about a possible expansion to the Salt Lake area.
    "We have received a preliminary inquiry from an ownership group in Salt Lake. We will be exploring Salt Lake as a possibility," AFL representative Chris McCloskey said. "Salt Lake is a good market for an AFL team and has a good track record with pro sports franchises, namely the Utah Jazz."
    While Salt Lake will have to meet several requirements before an expansion team is granted, it does not appear to be beyond reach.
    No indication has been given as to whether or not Salt Lake would be granted an AFL franchise or a developmental franchise in the AF2 league. The AF2 is the AFL's equivalent of baseball's minor leagues.
    If placed in the AFL, Salt Lake would be a smaller market, but not the smallest. Current teams exist in Grand Rapids and Austin, both smaller than Salt Lake in relative size. The AFL currently has teams in seven of the 10 major markets in the United States, with several expansion options such as Washington, D.C., and Houston.
    If placed in the smaller developmental AF2, Salt Lake would be bigger than most current teams, such as Bakersfield and Birmingham.
    The AFL's popularity and attendance have grown over the past several years, prompting recent expansion to cities such as Denver and New Orleans, and attracting owners such as John Elway and Jon Bon Jovi.
    Strong ownership is one of the stringent qualifications a potential franchise will have to meet before an AFL team is approved.
    Although representatives from the AFL league office have said that contact from an interested party from Salt Lake has been preliminary, several additional steps will be necessary in the expansion process.
    First, an informal inquiry needs to be made from a potential ownership group. Then the AFL will investigate its potential new market. Then, contingent on an approval from the AFL Expansion Committee and Executive Board, three-quarters of the Board of Directors must approve the bid.
    There are 19 teams in the AFL and 25 teams in the developmental AF2 league.

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  • DJRamFan
    Owner puts Firebirds up for sale
    by DJRamFan
    Arena football team may move if local buyer can't be found

    By Jeff Rabjohns
    [email protected]
    July 30, 2004

    The Indiana Firebirds are for sale and may move to Florida if a local buyer cannot be found in the next 30 days, owner David Lageschulte said Thursday.

    Lageschulte is searching for local ownership for the Arena Football League franchise that moved to Indianapolis from Albany, N.Y., before the 2001 season.

    If that doesn't happen, Lageschulte, a resident of Fort Myers, Fla., said he would look to move the team, possibly as soon as next season.

    "I would like that to be an option," he said. "First, I'd love to try to sell it and keep it in Indiana. We have wonderful crowds and wonderful games in Indiana.

    "If I can't, I would try to move it. Florida would be a choice of mine, but that would have to come with league approval."

    Lageschulte declined to tell his asking price for the team or what he paid for it. The most recent team to join the Arena league, the Austin (Texas) Wranglers, paid a $16.2 million expansion fee before the 2004 season. The sale of the Georgia Force before the 2003 season was reported at $14 million.

    With an influx of NFL ownership and a television deal with NBC, Arena football has seen its franchise values soar.

    "It's probably a little early to tell what the market will bear," said David Morton of Sunrise Sports Group, who along with Milt Thompson of Grand Slam III has been contracted by Lageschulte to search for potential owners.

    "To compare a new franchise . . . is difficult because this is an existing, established brand."

    Morton said he and Thompson are in the early stages of making proposals to potential buyers.

    Lageschulte purchased the team in August 2002 from Glenn Mazula, who owned the team since its inception in 1990.

    Lageschulte was an investor in the franchise since 1997. From 1993-95, he also owned an Arena franchise known as the Miami Hooters.

    One of the originators of the Hooters restaurant chain, Lageschulte is co-CEO of a company that runs 30 restaurants and bars. He also is part owner of a company involved in fitness centers, heavy equipment and environmental remediation.

    Lageschulte purchased control of the Firebirds with the intent that he would eventually sell the team.

    "We have some pretty stiff deadlines at this point. I love Indianapolis and the Indianapolis market," Lageschulte said. "Unfortunately, I live in Florida and that's the reason I wanted to sell the team or have someone take it over.

    "We have to find something in the next 30 days that at least smells like a deal."

    Playing in Conseco Fieldhouse, the Firebirds averaged...
    -08-02-2004, 02:59 PM
  • DJRamFan
    NFL Owners Say They Won't Buy Stake in Arena Football League
    by DJRamFan
    Mon, 25 Mar 2002, 6:07pm EST
    By Curtis Eichelberger

    Orlando, Florida, March 19 (Bloomberg) -- National Football League owners said they won't exercise their option to become minority partners in the Arena Football League.

    The NFL had negotiated a three-year option in 1999 that allowed it to buy between 24.5 percent and 49.9 percent of the 16- team indoor league before March 31.

    During their annual meetings in Orlando, Florida, NFL owners said they supported individuals buying arena league teams, but were against the league taking an ownership stake. Eight NFL owners have bought arena league franchises.

    ``We couldn't reach a consensus,'' said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. ``It could be revisited, but not at this meeting.''

    Arena Football League Commissioner David Baker wasn't immediately available to comment.

    The decision, which would have required approval from 24 of the NFL's 32 owners, comes less than three weeks after the indoor football league signed a contract to play its games on General Electric's NBC network beginning in 2003.

    If the NFL had exercised its option, it would have shared in the arena league's advertising, sponsorship and merchandising revenue.

    ``A lot of people here think it's a good thing, but I'm not convinced it's football,'' said Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

    NFL Ties

    The NFL still has a close relationship with the arena league, overseeing its officiating department and lending expertise in negotiating marketing agreements.

    The NFL owners who have bought arena league teams are Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, William Clay Ford of the Detroit Lions, Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins, Tom Benson of the New Orleans Saints, Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos, Wayne Weaver of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bud Adams of the Tennessee Titans, and John York and Denise DeBartolo York of the San Francisco *****.

    Orlando Predators Entertainment Inc., the only publicly traded company in the arena league, was down 36 cents to $3.10 a share.

    The arena league plays indoors on a 50-yard field with eight men to a team. It has produced many NFL players, including two- time Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams.
    -03-25-2002, 03:08 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Tagliabue confident owners will OK Arena game in May
    by DJRamFan
    By David Elfin

    ORLANDO, Fla. Paul Tagliabue remains a firm believer in his powers of persuasion.
    In his news conference wrapping up the NFL's spring meetings, and one day after league owners opted not to exercise their option to purchase between 25 and 49.9 percent of Arena Football, Tagliabue said he believed they would vote in favor of the idea at the May meeting in Houston.
    The commissioner also said that he thinks the opposition of Fox and CBS to the league's proposal giving ABC greater scheduling flexibility for the final four weeks of "Monday Night Football" can be overcome. And Tagliabue is convinced that Los Angeles is still prime NFL territory more than seven years after the Rams and Raiders left the nation's second-largest market to little fan disappointment.
    "There are quite a few people in support of taking the 25 percent equity investment position and others who have reservations about how it fits into the NFL," Tagliabue said. "But everyone sees NBC's contract with the Arena League as a positive."
    That's also how Tagliabue sees the possible late-season television switches in light of the unpredictable nature of the league that turns supposed cellar-dwellers into contenders each season, making some scheduled national games duds.
    "We don't see why there's not a more intelligent way of doing things that serves the fans," Tagliabue said. "I've found that a lot of people come to discussions close-minded and become open-minded when it's a win-win and especially when it's part and parcel of schedule flexibility for the Sunday networks."
    In response to a question about fan interest in Los Angeles, Tagliabue cited the city's long pro and college football history and snapped, "At a certain point in life, you don't need evidence of the sun and the moon to know that they're there."
    Tagliabue, while still promoting his idea of Super Bowls in New York and Washington, said that the NFL has promised Arizona another Super Bowl if the Cardinals ever get a new stadium built and added that Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Houston, Detroit and Jacksonville are all interested in playing host to the game.
    New York Giants owner Bob Tisch, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and Redskins owner Dan Snyder have all asked to make presentations on behalf of their cities at an upcoming NFL meeting. However, the owners might not award the next available games 2007 and 2008 until next spring in Arizona.
    With the league back to an even number of teams after four years with 31, Tagliabue said there won't be any byes during the first two weeks or during the last seven. The NFL also named Michael Haynes, a Hall of Fame cornerback with New England and the Los Angeles Raiders, as its vice president of player and employee development. Haynes' main task...
    -03-25-2002, 03:06 PM
  • RamWraith
    Roger most likely to succeed Tags
    by RamWraith
    Pretty Goodell shot


    Roger Goodell is positioned to pull off a wire-to-wire victory in the NFL Commissioner Derby, but will have to withstand a challenge from at least one high-powered corporate CEO when owners vote Aug. 7-9 in Chicago on Paul Tagliabue's successor.

    There are 15 candidates still on the list, but after an owners meeting next Monday in Detroit, the eight-member search committee, which includes Woody Johnson of the Jets, is expected to narrow it to three or four finalists and bring them to Chicago for the owners to interview and then vote on. It will take 22 out of 32 votes to send Tagliabue into retirement.

    Last week, the search committee held a conference call with the owners. The owners were informed there were three candidates from the league's Park Avenue office: Goodell, the executive VP/chief operating officer and second on the NFL executive depth chart; Jeff Pash, the executive VP/chief administrative officer-counsel who helped get the Maurice Clarett decision reversed; and Eric Grubman, the executive VP of finance and strategic decisions who was the point man in the sale of the Jets when he worked for Goldman Sachs.

    Falcons president and GM Rich McKay and Ravens president Dick Cass are club executives who have been under consideration. But Goodell's main competition is expected to come from outside the league.

    Goodell, involved in all important NFL decisions, is the clear favorite among the candidates currently working in the league, one owner said. But the committee has kept the names of candidates from the corporate world a secret from the owners because those people don't want their names released at this stage of the process.

    "I still think Roger Goodell has the inside track, but it's hard to make a truly accurate assessment without knowing who the other candidates are," one owner said yesterday. "They can present us with outstanding candidates, which could throw this in a state of flux. My gut is Roger will be a finalist in Chicago and there will be at least one outside candidate. But they've given us no names."

    There has been a theory the 32 owners would not trust an outsider to come in and run their $6 billion a year business and that Goodell gives the league the best chance to make a seamless transition during a very profitable time. "Roger is highly regarded," one owner said.

    Still, there are enough out-of-the-box thinkers in the ownership group who could create support for bringing in an outsider.

    There is optimism the Chicago meeting will produce a new commissioner. But it took 23 ballots to get Pete Rozelle elected in 1960 and 12 ballots and three meetings over a three-month period for Tagliabue to get the votes to succeed Rozelle in 1989.

    Goodell has been the...
    -07-18-2006, 01:38 PM
  • Milan
    NFL no plan to move north
    by Milan
    DETROIT (CP) - A year after suggesting Toronto was a future candidate for NFL expansion, commissioner Paul Tagliabue slammed the door on the subject Friday.

    Tagliabue told reporters at his annual state-of-the-union address Friday that the league has no plans to expand into Canada and the NFL's priority remains putting a team back into Los Angeles.

    "I could not see, at least now, a decision that would involve a two-team expansion," Tagliabue said. "If there is expansion, I would think it would leave us with an odd number of teams for some period of time, which we have had in the past.

    "I don't see expansion to Canada as being related to what we might do in Los Angeles."

    The long-standing belief has been that if, or when, the NFL returns to Los Angeles it will add a second expansion team to keep its two conferences balanced.

    Click Here

    The NFL currently has 32 teams, 16 per conference. Los Angeles would make for 33. However, Tagliabue said the league is willing to go with an odd number of teams for several years, thus delivering a blow to Canada's chances of landing a club.

    At last year's Super Bowl, Tagliabue said both Mexico and Toronto were future candidates for NFL expansion. The league opened the 2005 season in Mexico, with a record 103,467 fans cramming into Azteca Stadium to watch the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco ***** 31-14.

    The NFL has only staged exhibition games in Canada, in both Toronto and Vancouver.

    CFL commissioner Tom Wright, who attended Friday's news conference, said Tagliabue is very aware of the impact an NFL team in Canada would have on CFL teams.

    "Clearly the commissioner understood what our goals were and understood the importance of a partnership," Wright said afterwards. "He understands that a strong CFL is ultimately going to be good for football and what's good for football in Canada is going to help the NFL.

    "We are now finishing almost a decade of a formal relationship with the NFL and I have every hope it will be another decade of a good relationship."

    The CFL and NFL entered into a working agreement following the 1996 season, a deal that continues to allow players in the Canadian league entering the option year of their deals a six-week window to sign deals south of the border. The NFL-CFL deal runs through April 2007.

    "Clearly he also knows the CFL wouldn't have had the chance to renew itself following the U.S. expansion had the NFL not stepped forward and supported us," Wright said. "They've seen what happens when there's a strong organization that is focused on growing the game in Canada and what it results in is a healthier football climate for both of our leagues."

    Toronto has long lobbied for an NFL expansion franchise and in the past Tagliabue...
    -02-03-2006, 04:51 PM