A11 Professional Football League Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer Scott McKibben continues to be upbeat these days, and with good reason.
The A11FL has announced six of its eight charter franchises 13 months before opening kickoff, it has a two-year television contract with ESPN and it is preparing for its two nationally-televised showcase games later this year in Tampa, Florida, and Dallas, Texas.
“We’re very pleased with our progress,” McKibben said. “We had a terrific national announcement and media day. The reaction from the fan base has exceeded our expectations. We’ve had a great deal of follow-up from team investors and team owners. The markets we’re going to, the stadiums we are playing in and our broadcast partner has resonated with the fan base.”
“There’s a lot to do, but things are going nicely.”
The A11FL’s Team Brand Design Team has been rolling out the branding/helmets for the announced franchises two at a time. The brands Bay Area Sea Lions and Los Angeles Express were revealed first, followed by the Dallas Wranglers and Tampa Bay Bandits. Later this week, the reveals for the Chicago Staggs and New Jersey Generals will begin.
“It’s been terrific,” McKibben said. “Of anything, that has exceeded our expectations more than anything. The work done on the creative (side) has just been outstanding.”
McKibben also offered some insight into the league’s thinking in acquiring the trademarks for some of the old United States Football League (1983-85) team names.
“The value in acquiring the names was that we, for a long time, thought that in some of the markets, the real historical and iconic character of those names was valuable,” he said. “They still resonated, and they still carried. There are some markets where, perhaps, there are conflicts with other leagues, or the polling of the names weren’t that strong. Some of them were maintained, and some of them were changed.”
As for when the league’s seventh and eight charter franchises will be revealed, McKibben said it will be in 30-45 days.
“We’re getting close,” he said. “Those last two are going to be driven team owner interest and community interest. We’ve pretty much got it down to about three or four cities.”
As for the showcase games, they will be Saturday, May 17, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and Thursday, June 5, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Both games will be televised nationally live on ESPN2. McKibben said the league’s scouts already are working on possible player lists, and signings would begin in late March or early April before practices begin.
Another hot A11FL topic is the potential of former University of Florida and National Football League quarterback Tim Tebow playing in the league. McKibben, however, said there is no update on whether or not Tebow will play.
“As we have said, we have had discussions in the past with folks associated with Tim,” he said. “Tim has been given an offer from our league that covers a lot of different areas of involvement, and we’re not pressuring him. We know he has embarked on a television career. We’re letting him take his time. Tim knows the door is always open. Our fans would be absolutely ecstatic if he would join us. That’s where we are at this point.”
The A11FL also has begun its crowdfunding efforts for Bay Area, Los Angeles, Dallas and Tampa Bay. The crowdfunding Web sites for Chicago and New Jersey will launch tomorrow.
“The crowdfunding initiative was launched at midnight after the announcement,” McKibben said. “It gives the league the opportunity the chance to engage with its fan base. It isn’t as much about raising money as it is about engaging fans in the six markets we’ve already announced.”