By Steve Carp LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL Posted: Apr. 7, 2012 | 2:02 a.m.
Hold the obituaries. The United Football League is still alive.
Despite the resignation of commissioner Michael Huyghue, losses of more than $120 million in its first three years and rumors that it would fold, the UFL will return in 2012, league founder Bill Hambrecht said Friday.
"We're moving forward," said Hambrecht, the Las Vegas Locomotives' owner. "We fully expect to play."
An official announcement is expected around May 1. The league will conduct a meeting April 16 in Las Vegas to finalize plans for the season.
Hambrecht said the five-team UFL will play primarily on weekday nights beginning in mid-September and is expected to have a national television contract.
The league will consist of Las Vegas, defending champion Virginia, Omaha, Sacramento and an expansion team, most likely in San Antonio, though Southern California and Portland, Ore., have been discussed.
The UFL reportedly has cut a deal for games to be aired on the CBS Sports Network (Cable 333). Each team also is trying to sign a regional TV deal with a cable operator in its area.
"We believe we have a media deal in place," said Hambrecht, who would not comment on the CBS tie-in. "With that in mind, we are moving ahead."
Hambrecht said Locos players finally have been paid for October's UFL championship game -- the Locomotives lost to Virginia 17-3 after winning the first two UFL titles -- and the team is looking to settle with its other creditors. The league still has about $1.2 million in debts to resolve, a source with knowledge of the situation said.
"The reality is we've been under-financed the first three years," Hambrecht said. "But we've got things in place now to see to it that we are financially solid."
Having TV revenue is the critical element to the UFL's survival. When the NFL locked out its players last spring, the UFL had been in negotiations with several networks and was looking to move the start of its season from mid-September to early August.
But when the NFL settled with its players, it was too late for the UFL to get a TV deal. The league postponed its August start, took a month to regroup and played a four-game regular season with four teams after the Hartford franchise was dissolved.
Hambrecht said the UFL will be more streamlined. To save money, it will not have a commissioner or a league office. Hambrecht and Virginia owner Bill Mayer will oversee the business end, and Locos president and coach Jim Fassel will be responsible for the football side.
"Any startup company goes through some growing pains," Fassel said. "But I believe in the concept, and I believe in Bill Hambrecht, Bill Mayer and (Sacramento owner Paul) Pelosi. Bill Hambrecht doesn't flinch, and he wants this thing to work.
"We've got to change a bunch of stuff, and we need to get more awareness, both locally and nationally. We need to do a better job getting the word out, and I believe we will."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.
"Under-financed" is, I believe, a fancy way of saying "we have no business plan and no hope of making money ever."
...but I predict only good things for the UFL now that they're foregoing such luxuries as a league office, a commissioner, and ever updating their website (ufl-football.com)!