The UFL Brings Football Back to New York
Geography has not exactly been a strong point with football teams in the Tri-state area. Not one, but two teams play their games in the heart of the Garden State but still call themselves New York, the state where they were born. They are obviously the Giants and Jets, who are in New Jersey to stay with their new joint venture stadium set to open in 2010 right next to Giants Stadium. (The Meadowlands if you're there for a Jet game.)
Two other teams played in the same venue and took credit for both states. The Knights of the WLAF and Hitmen of the XFL actually called themselves 'New York/New Jersey' during their short tenures in their respective leagues.
Even the one team that actually did play here in the New York is gone, maybe forever. The Dragons and the rest of the Arena Football League will sit out the 2009 season with the hope that by the time next year rolls around, the economic state of the league and its fans will be better.
All hope is lost, right? Maybe not, with the creation of the United Football League. The brand new outdoor league that is scheduled to kick off this October with four teams includes one in New York to be coached by former Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. The big question is where will they play? According to the league's website, www.ufl-football.com, mentions a few possibilities, some more reasonable than the others. Just for window dressing, the page for the New York franchise states that both Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium would be "ideal for a UFL team." Fat chance that either place would ever see a football game, especially one from a league in its maiden season.
Figure on one of the next set of places spoken about to be the eventual location. Laurence Wein Stadium at Columbia University in Manhattan or James M. Shuart Stadium at Hofstra on Long Island both seat less than 20,000, a number attainable from an unknown entity than the 45,000 or 53,000 at the Mets and Yanks new surroundings.
Bringing football back to New York will probably be a good marketing tool, but of the team ends up in either of the other locations listed (Rutgers Stadium, Princeton Stadium or the future home of the MLS Red Bulls in Harrison, New Jersey) then they will have to come up with something different.
The other UFL teams will be in Las Vegas, Orlando and San Francisco and all have former NFL head coaches leading them. Jim Fassel (Giants), Jim Hasslet (Saints, Rams) and Dennis Green (Vikings, Cardinals), respectively, will give the league instant credibility and known names, at least on the sidelines.
Just who will don the uniforms of these four teams remains to be seen. There is no question that there will be a wide pool to choose from with the AFL and NFL Europe no longer an option, but quantity does not exactly mean quality. There has been some speculation that Michael Vick may be destined for the new league if no NFL teams want to touch him once he's eligible to play again.
During a press conference, UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said, "The first UFL game will take place on October 8 at AT&T; Park, the home venue of the San Francisco Giants," which has been the only stadium announced. He further said," We will commence (that week) for a total of seven weeks which will conclude with our championship game in Las Vegas," which will take place during Thanksgiving weekend. Huyghue also stated that the cable network VERSUS will broadcast weekly games.
Certain games will also be played in neutral markets such as Los Angeles and Hartford, in all likelihood potential expansion cities for next season.
Will they be successful, especially going head-to-head against the NFL? Most critics have said that any league would be better off playing in the spring, such as the new USFL plans to do in 2010.
But with a chance to finally land a team in New York, are we in any position to be picky?