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Another Spring Professional Football League Fails

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Birmingham Iron defenders stop the Memphis Express in its tracks on the way to a 26-0 shutout. Photo: Birmingham Iron

By Evan Weiner |

When the final analysis of the demise of the Alliance of American Football is done, the cause of death will be a lack of funding. But why was that so? A number of reasons, there was no government support as in the AAF getting money or tax breaks to play in municipal stadiums and get huge revenue sources. The AAF was never in that position to call those shots.

A lack of television money, which is essential for a league and teams. The AAF could not command major money for the product. There was also a lack of substantial corporate support. Not having the National Football League or the National Football League Players Association approval to get practice squad members into the AAF was not going to save the league financially. The AAF would have remained a bottomless money pit because attendance revenue was weak. San Antonio did draw some decent crowds but Orlando and San Diego struggled to get 20,000 people a game in the seats. It was worse for Memphis and Birmingham. Atlanta and Phoenix, could not get people into the stadium. Salt Lake City had few fans.

As the AAF recedes into history, startup pro leagues have not been able to last. Three American Football Leagues, the All American Football Conference, the Continental Football League, the World Football League, the United States Football League, the XFL, the United Football League and the World League of American Football, which was backed by the National Football League, all folded. Lamar Hunt’s AFL did merge with the NFL in 1966. The NFL took one AFL 3 team and three All American Football Conference teams along with Hunt’s teams.

Where does this leave the planned revival of the XFL? Vince McMahon’s league faces the same AAF problems. Stadiums with limited revenue streams will be rented, there won’t be much TV money. Just two of the many obstacles.

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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