United Football League founder and owner of the Las Vegas Locos Bill Hambrecht has spoken candidly about the positive future he envisions for the UFL heading into the 2011 season and for the years ahead.
The UFL wrapped up its second season as Hambrecht’s Locos won a second successive championship with a 23-20 victory over the Florida Tuskers in Omaha, NE, on November 27.
“The dust has barely settled on the 2010 season, but we are already firmly focused on 2011 and the opportunities that lie ahead,” explained Hambrecht. “The league is currently completing its long-term planning process and I believe that the successes of the past two years and the initiatives we are putting in place are evidence that the United Football League is moving towards a steady future.
“I have invested heavily in this venture and while we still face challenges, I believe we have established a strong platform on which to build a sustainable business. We have seen growth in all areas of our business both on and off the field and are establishing our credibility as a competitive and profitable league. We are in this for the long haul.
“We have a strong management team, led by Commissioner Michael Huyghue, who are equally committed to building this long-term venture.
“We attracted significant sponsorship for the 2010 Championship Game with partner and supporting sponsors who in many cases are also committed to future relationships with the UFL. In all our markets we have established an exciting entertainment property that appeals to investors, sponsors and most importantly to fans, who have already shown their loyalty to the UFL in great numbers.
“We attracted incredible crowds this year, topping the 300,000 total attendance mark. We recorded numerous sellouts in Omaha and Sacramento, including four consecutive games in Omaha where Nighthawks fans packed into Rosenblatt Stadium for every home game, creating a passionate atmosphere. The success of the Omaha expansion team integrating with the local community was one of the greatest stories in all sports in 2010.
“The UFL package is about more than simply the game on the field and our pregame entertainment and stadium tailgating experience appealed to fans of multiple demographics. The affordability of our product and the player accessibility – such as signing autographs for fans after every game – proved very attractive to families and to parents who were able to introduce their children to live professional football for the first time.
“I believe the quality of play on the field and the high-profile players who chose to further their careers in the UFL, including Jeff Garcia, Daunte Culpepper, Dominic Rhodes and Josh McCown, attracted fans to our games and further underlined our credibility.
“We also unearthed talented players who were given an opportunity and a prominent stage on which to showcase their skills and many of those players are now heading to the National Football League. I am certain that young players with a point to prove and those who wish to continue playing football at a high level now view the UFL as the most attractive outlet for their talents.
“For fans who were not able to get to our games, we have established an online presence that I believe is unrivaled in professional sports in terms of innovation and its growth in such a short space of time. We have a burgeoning social media following that allows fans and players to interact and we continuously solicit and monitor feedback from our fans to help with our decision making process.
“The 2010 UFL Championship Game made sporting history when it was broadcast live to a worldwide audience with no restrictions on YouTube. Viewers had an option to select from four camera angles in addition to the main live game feed. No other sports league in the world has taken that initiative.
“We invited fans to ask questions and post messages during the live stream through Facebook and Twitter, underlining the fact that the fans’ access to the United Football League is unrivaled. We will continue to give fans a forum that allows their voice to be heard and to impact their league.
“As we head towards the 2011 season, my fellow investors and I plan to field at least six teams and continue to explore our expansion options. We have added the Virginia Destroyers as a sixth team for next season and welcome a new President and head coach in TD Ameritrade President and former college football coordinator Joe Moglia. Our product has also appealed to prominent investors such as former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann, who is the Owner / President of the Florida Tuskers, and NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson, who this year came on board as an Owner / Investor of the Nighthawks in his native Omaha.
“In 2011, as we seek new ways in which to position the United Football League prominently on the national sporting landscape, we will move our games forward from our previous September starting point to an August kickoff and each team will play a ten-game season.
“We believe the UFL regular season provides exciting and competitive close games that will offer football fans meaningful competition at a time when the NFL preseason features irrelevant games in which recognizable players take only a few snaps. We will provide the only competitive football games for fans to enjoy at that time of year.
“I believe the years ahead will see the United Football League thrive and become a permanent fixture among professional American sports, appealing to investors, business leaders, sponsors, players, coaches, officials, and of course sports fans who will always embrace high-quality football.”