The USFL is seeking to become relevant once again. The rights to the Spring/Summer football league were purchased by San Diego based businessman, Jamie Cuadra and he has been assembling a formidable group of former NFL executives and players to help him in the resurrection of the failed league. Cuadra has promised that this time, the USFL will not decide to take on the $9 billion dollar a year NFL, but rather create a developmental league to give players additional game time to hone their skills.
Mr. Cuadra recently spoke with Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times outlining his plans for the new USFL. In the course of the interview, he told the Times that currently three cities in Florida are being considered for placement of a team. Tallahassee, Orlando and Daytona Beach are on the list according to Cuadra. Orlando makes perfect sense for the league.
The new version of the USFL has a completely different business plan than the earlier model. The league is searching out smaller markets and does not plan to place a team in any city with a current NFL or MLB franchise. From this standpoint, Orlando should be the only possible location selected by the league.
Tallahassee is the Florida capitol, home to 181,000 people as well as the Florida State Seminoles. Football is big business in Tallahassee with tens of thousands showing up to Bobby Bowden Field on Saturdays in the fall, but can the region really support a USFL franchise. Mr. Cuadra told the Times that his current business plan includes average attendance at games in the first season at 17,000 per game. Once out of the confines of Tallahassee, drawing fans from surrounding areas will become a chore. Tallahassee is 150 miles from Gainesville, Florida and 165 from Jacksonville. Those are long distances for an upstart league to draw from.
Daytona Beach is a popular destination for Spring Break and events such as Bike Week, but with a base population of 60,000, this location should not be considered for a USFL franchise.
The numbers should favor placing a team in Orlando. The city which is home to Walt Disney World and countless theme parks, is home to a population of 238,000 residents. Nearly 5 million more residents inhabit the Tampa Bay region which is just 80 miles away. Tampa Bay was home to one of the original USFL franchises, the Tampa Bay Bandits. The Bandits were one of the more successful clubs in the league in the early 1980′s.
Over 50 million tourists visit the Orlando area each year, making the airport the 13th busiest in the United States. Orlando currently supports the Orlando Magic, a NBA franchise as well as the AFL Orlando Predators organization. The region is home to two stadiums- the Citrus Bowl which can house 70,000 fans and Bright House Networks Stadium, the home of the UCF Knights and 45,000 fans.
If the goal of the league is to place approximately 20,000 fans in the seats for games, the USFL should easily select the Orlando region, a locale which could see well over 30,000 fans per game in the seats per game.
Hardcore football fans are eagerly awaiting the re-launch of the USFL. As Mr. Cuadra told the Times, “I’m not a huge basketball fan. So there’s always such a void after the Super Bowl, and it would be great to have football in the spring.” I couldn’t agree more. Now lets make sure that the league makes the right decision in placing franchises in order to guarantee success. Placing a franchise in Orlando would be the first step.
Filed under: NFL