UFL commissioner: 2011 season is on

Updated: August 9, 2011, 11:25 PM ET
Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- The United Football League will go ahead with its third season, despite losing more than $100 million in its first two years.

Commissioner Michael Huyghue wrote "we will play" in a text message to The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Huyghue said the league will announce details Wednesday.

The UFL on July 19 announced it would push back the start of its training camps a month and delay the start of the season from August to September. That fueled speculation the second-tier pro league would fold.

It remains unclear whether the UFL will continue with four or five teams. Hartford Colonials coach Jerry Glanville said last month that his team was being considered for contraction. He said Tuesday night that he still hadn't been told whether the Colonials would play.

"I don't think we'll know until tomorrow," he said. "I know we're having a big meeting."

The UFL has other franchises in Omaha, Norfolk, Va., Las Vegas and Sacramento.

The league is made up of players who were cut in NFL training camps, veterans who want to get back to the NFL and free agents. Players earn about $40,000 a season.

Omaha Nighthawks quarterback Eric Crouch said he and his teammates haven't been given details about how the season will be structured.

"It's absolutely going to happen, and we feel good about it," said Crouch, the 2001 Heisman Trophy winner at Nebraska. "There was a three-year model, and some of the owners were prepared to go three seasons, and so this makes sense."

The UFL had come out of last season hoping to garner more exposure if the lockout wiped out some or all of the NFL season. The UFL initially moved up the start of its games to August and scheduled early season games on Sundays, aiming to fill television time slots normally reserved for NFL exhibition games.

Once it became apparent the NFL season would be saved, Huyghue scrapped those plans and moved the season back to its usual starting time in September.

The delay prompted talk of the league's demise.

The UFL's majority owners are Bill Hambrecht, Paul Pelosi and Bill Mayer. Huyghue said the league projected that it would lose money the first three years.

But the $100 million in losses so far is considerably higher than Huyghue had reported previously. There also are $6 million in unpaid bills from UFL vendors and other debts.

Huyghue said he twice recommended that the league suspend operations, in January and again in June. But he said each time the owners told him they believed in the UFL's mission and were committed to funding the league's $50 million budget for this season.

The commissioner has said the UFL's long-term survival depends on bringing in new investors and landing a TV contract. He also has said he's hopeful of entering a partnership with the NFL, possibly making the UFL a developmental league.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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