Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Blueprint for UFL "success"

Something called the United Football League (UFL) has announced it will be playing professional outdoor football in the FALL of 2009 in cities that do not have NFL teams. What sets the UFL apart from this history of failed NFL rivals is that it has a number of experienced NFL folks at the helm and a number of big-money backers set up as owners --including Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

UFL Commisioner Michael Huyghue has recently announced some of the league plans including 4 West Coast teams (out of the 8 the league plans to have at opening kickoff). (UFL Access has everything you could want to know about the UFL and more.) The UFL plans to play on Friday and Saturday nights --so as to avoid direct competition with the NFL. Allegedly, several networks are interestedin televising games --and clearly a legit TV contract is the make-or-break aspect of this league.
But the most intersting and promising factor to me is Huyghue's statement that they plan to recruit MLS owners and use MLS Soccer specific stadiums for the UFL teams. In order to succeed, the UFL must create demand for tickets. This requires a good product (and the UFL plans to go after NFL 2nd stringers and the like --so the players should be better than, say, what the XFL had), good promotions, good community ties. But it also means that tickets should be worth something and that season tickets should actually benefit the purchaser. This means that tickets should be scarce. In a start up league, playing in huge stadiums is a losing proposition. It means tickets have no scarcity and the atmosphere is dead and empty. This is what hurt the NASL and the XFL (to some extent) that the WLAF's attempt to play in the USA back in '91.

Playing in MLS Stadiums achieves two important goals: 1) Fans get a state-of-the-art stadium experience (which delivers a message of a quality product); and 2)Tickets will be limited to the size of the smaller MLS stadiums. No cavernous 50,000 seat holes here. Just 16k-25k stadiums --which means sell-outs and a demand for tickets (is possible). This is essential, because sold out stadiums create excitement which breeds a fun, festive atmosphere.

Given the unserved NFL market goal, Los Angeles and Las Vegas (to be owned by Mark Cuban) are obvious picks. Huyghue said markets would also likely include San Francisco and Salt Lake City, Utah. Orlando is a strong East Coast contender, while San Antonio, Texas, appeals to the Hispanic fans that the UFL plans to court aggressively. (thanks to UFL access)

The XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws did well at Sam Boyd Stadium and the UFL will play there as well. But the other teams should look to the MLS stadiums.

Here's a list of MLS Soccer-Specific Stadia. The UFL should look there as a starting point for Utah, L.A., and other non-NFL markets.

1 comment:

Roosevelt Old Bouy said...

Screw the UFL and Mark Cuban, et al! Stay away from MLS stadiums, keep the lines off the damn fields! They will tear up the fields and they won't be worth shit to play soccer on. Let them go rent some high school stadiums if they want to create ticket scarcity,, because that's about how many will come...

Im sorry Todd but you don't have anymore room for the collectibles from this temporary league...