Thursday, August 02, 2012

Omaha Nighthawks Have a Schedule (& Maybe a Coach)

 The UFL announced an eight week season for 2012, with all games televised by CBS Sports Network.  (That's the cable network formerly known as CBS College Sports and CSTV, not the over the air network you see on KMTV-Channel 3.)  Omaha will play home games against Virginia twice, and will travel to Las Vegas twice.  Here's the schedule, with all times central:

Friday Sept. 21: Virginia, 6 p.m.
Friday Sept. 28: at Sacramento, 10 p.m.
Wednesday Oct. 3: at Las Vegas, 8 p.m.
Friday Oct. 12: Virginia, 6 p.m.
Wednesday  Oct. 17: Las Vegas, 8 p.m.
Tuesday Oct. 23: Sacramento, 8 p.m.
Wednesday Oct. 31: at Las Vegas, 8 p.m.
Friday Nov. 9: at Virginia, 8:30 p.m.

With the television contract, it's no surprise that games won't be played on Saturday.  Obviously the game times are set by CBS; I'm sure Virginia fans are excited for a 9:30 pm kickoff locally

We still don't know where the Nighthawks will play for sure, but all signs point towards TD Ameritrade Park downtown. Both MECA and the UFL indicate that's what's being discussed...but it's not finalized yet. Frankly, it would be a major fail for both institutions to not come to an agreement. It's not like the baseball stadium is in use for anything else, and there really isn't another viable option in the area.  Both organizations kind of need the other, so it's likely going to happen.

And without a stadium, you can't sell tickets.  And with the first game 7 weeks away, that's a daunting task. They won't be able to raise prices this season...and probably need to offer season ticketholders a price advantage to buying the full slate.  Why would someone buy season tickets after the fiasco of the previous season?  I'd suggest setting season ticket prices back at 2010 levels, with single game prices higher.  The UFL needs quantity of fans to bring back the mojo of 2010.

Mixed news on the coaching front. It's reported that offensive coordinator Bart Andrus is being promoted to head coach, which shouldn't be a surprise.  Not that the Nighthawks had a great season in 2011, but they frankly don't have the luxury of looking around to find another coach.  Andrus previously was a head coach in the CFL and NFL Europe.  In 2009, Andrus went 3-15 leading the Toronto Argonauts.  From 2001 through 2007, Andrus coached the Amsterdam Admirals, going 34-36 and winning the 2005 World Bowl.  The Admirals lost the 2006 World Bowl.  NFL Europe folded after the 2007.  Andrus also was an assistant with the Tennessee Titans from 1997 through 1999, and then again in 2008.

So we'll have pro football somewhere around Omaha this fall.  But will the fans return?  The excitement of 2010 is long gone, and the stench of 2011 still lingers.  Fans will need a lot of encouragement to put there heart and wallets behind the Nighthawks, and there isn't much time for the UFL to convince fans that this is a long term proposition.

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