Thursday, October 11, 2007
ARENA FOOTBALL COMING TO CLEVELAND
Word out of Las Vegas is that there will soon be an Arena Football League team in Cleveland. There are conflicting reports as to whether this will be an existing team or expansion team and who the main owner will be, but this is what is known. Bernie Kosar and Cavaliers executive Len Komorowski headed to Chicago for the AFL meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. They are expected to announce a team will be playing in The Q next year owner by Bernie Kosar and Jim Ferraro...or Randy Lerner. The team will be called the Cleveland Bulldogs.
Jim Ferraro is currently the owner of the Las Vegas Gladiators. If the name is familiar, he is a lawyer, who has had multiple ads on local TV, and has offices in both Cleveland and Miami. He bought the New Jersey AFL franchise a few years back and moved them to Vegas, with disappointing results. The team averaged about 5,000 fans a game this year. He is also a former football player at Miami and also graduated from there, hence the tie to Bernie.
Ferraro would like to move his team to Cleveland and have an expansion team replace his in Vegas. However, AFL execs reportedly balked at this because he would in effect be getting a new team, without paying the expansion fee (which is reportedly between $30-40 million). Also, Ferraro is not beloved by his fellow owners due to the fact he was unsuccessful in 2 locations(Vegas and New Jersey) and 3 different arenas(1 in Jersey, 2 in Vegas) already. They are afraid he will mess up what is considered as a viable market in Cleveland.
Kosar, determined to land a team in Cleveland, has a back up plan in Browns owner Randy Lerner. The Lerner family has previously stated that they are not interested in owning an AFL team. However, it is believed that Randy Lerner (a close friend of Kosar's) has been convinced that Bernie could run a viable, profitable team in Cleveland. However, Lerner knows he is the backup plan and would only be counted on if Ferraro is stonewalled in his attempt to move his team.
And how do the Cavs play into all of this? It had previously been reported that Dan Gilbert would not be interested in hosting an AFL team since it would create competition for his other minor league franchise, the Lake Erie Monsters. The smaller Wolstein Center on the Cleveland State Campus was considered the front runner to host a team. However, the almighty dollar seems to have convinced Mr. Gilbert to allow another team in his venue. Simply, more dates he can use the arena, the more profitable the Q will be. Plus, there will be opportunity for cross marketing between the three franchises in the arena.
The official announcement of a franchise is expected soon. However, no exact date has been set. Details must be worked out behind the scenes first. Kosar's recent candid comments about attending the meetings this week leads me to believe we will be hearing something sooner, rather than later.
Welcome to Cleveland, Bulldogs!
Posted by Robbie Jay at 2:32 PM