It's back. Because a man from El Cajon has picked up the ball, and ran with it.
“This is the best time to launch a league,” said USFL President and CEO Jamie Cuadra. “We wanted to do it in the spring and so what better vehicle than one that was created back in the 80's?”
So Cuadra bought the United States Football League brand and plans to bring it back.
The USFL played spring football for three seasons and eventually folded after challenging the NFL. Cuadra says the new USFL has no plans to compete with the NFL. Instead...
“We are going to let the NFL have unfettered access to our players, our practices, to our game tapes to allow these players to be evaluated by NFL teams, if their interested, and eventually actually move into the NFL,” Cuadra said.
Cuadra, who played soccer at El Cajon Valley High School and at USD, says the USFL plans to kickoff in March of 2013 with eight teams with an operating budget between $6-8.5 million dollars.
Teams will have 50-man rosters with players’ salaries between $1,000-3,000 per game in a 14-game season with two weeks of playoffs and a championship game in June.
Cuadra also says that the league will own some teams, and some teams will have independent owners. He says they have plans to run for at least five years, regardless of revenues.
“That's why we think it's going to be successful,” Cuadra said “Because we're going to be financially responsible, we're going to play in the spring and we're going to stick to the spring, and we're going to play real football.”
Several football leagues have tried, and failed, since the original USFL came and went in 1985 - most recently, the United Football League, which played in the fall the past two years.
Former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia serves as a consultant for the USFL. He played 10 seasons in the NFL and spent one season in the UFL, with the Omaha Nighthawks, and he believes the USFL will work because of the spring schedule and teams in mid-tier cities with no NFL.
“We played in the College World Series (Rosenblatt) Stadium right there in Omaha,” Garcia recalls. “It only sat about 25,000 people which is ideal for these types of leagues. But it was sold out every game, those people backed the team, they were avid fans, they supported it, they love their football.”
In the end, the fan support will determine whether the USFL succeeds, and Cuadra, who made his money running tuna farms, says he firmly believes the USFL will be a real catch.
“People just still want to watch football in the spring,” Cuadra said. “We don't feel that there's a lot of overlap in football and baseball fans."
The USFL started a tour of prospective cities last week in Akron, OH. Cuadra said other possible teams are Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, UT, Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX, Raleigh, NC, Memphis, TN, Oklahoma City, OK, Omaha, NE and Tulsa, OK.
He also said they have no plans for teams in California due to the high cost of workers’ compensation insurance.