Friday, May 11, 2012

The New USFL Thinks About Omaha

A reincarnation of the USFL is currently underway, and Omaha is apparently one of the targets. That sounds all well and good until you hear about the details. CEO Jaime Cuadra announced yesterday that the spring league is looking for eight cities for a 14 game league season starting in 2013.  Cities beside Omaha include Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Antonio or Austin, Texas; Columbus or Akron, Ohio; Oklahoma City; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Memphis, Tenn.
“These are cities with underutilized facilities at that time of year,” Cuadra said.
And frankly, that's about as far as it will go in Omaha. The concept may be fine, just not in Omaha. And frankly, when they say that Omaha has "underutilized facilities at that time of year", the USFL hasn't done any research on Omaha. There simply isn't an "underutilized facility" available for football in the spring time.

The obvious target would be TD Ameritrade Park...but it's not available for spring football. Omaha built that stadium for the College World Series, and there is no way the NCAA would allow football to be played in the spring.  The field must be in pristine shape for baseball, and with Creighton also playing baseball there from March through May, it's not available for football.

Where else could a USFL team play?  Al Caniglia Field is available for now, but it's a campus venue.  No alcohol sales would be permitted, and crowds would be limited to 10,000 or so.  I don't see that as viable.  After that, it's high school fields....with even smaller capacities and the same no-alcohol restrictions.

Lincoln actually makes more sense with Memorial Stadium; yeah, it's much bigger than the USFL needs, but it's the only facility that isn't too small.

Bottom line is that if the USFL wants to play spring football, Omaha won't be a market.

Speaking of minor league football, we were supposed to hear about the Nighthawks and the UFL last week. Don't count out the UFL just yet, but the silence seems to be portending the inevitable.

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