The brand-new A11 Football League had its first major announcement yesterday, revealing the identities of six franchises and an all-important television partner for two showcase games this spring.
First things first, let's talk television. Television contracts are the lifeblood of all sports leagues in 2014, especially start-up minor leagues, and the A11FL is off to a good start. ESPN2 will broadcast showcase games on May 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET from Tampa's Raymond James Stadium and another on June 5 at 7 p.m. ET from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
“As we enthusiastically look at the launch of our league and what is best for our fans and sponsors we are most pleased to announce this TV relationship with ESPN,” said A11FL CEO/Commissioner Scott McKibben. “It is truly a win-win for all.” McKibben comes to the A11FL after serving as the executive vice president and chief revenue officer for the Los Angeles Times Media Group and the executive director of the Rose Bowl.
Now, the franchises:
San Francisco Bay Area Sea Lions
Los Angeles Express
New Jersey Generals
Tampa Bay Bandits
Football historians (or people older than 30) will note that the Express, Generals and Bandits identities have been resurrected from the USFL of the 1980's. And the San Francisco franchise has to be the only team in sports with a six-word name, so there is that.
For the uninitiated, the A-11 offense turns the conventional football rulebook on its head. In short, the six eligible players on a given play are interchangeable. Read more here. Teams will be allowed but not required to run the A-11 offense.
“With its unique formations, A11FL will be an exciting brand of football, and ESPN is excited to offer a national platform for fans to be able to see these games during the league’s debut,” said Matthew Volk, ESPN director, programming and acquisitions.
The league expects to announce two more franchises soon and will launch its first full season in March 2015.