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Did you blink an eye?
Then you missed the first and last season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), the most recent attempt to start a professional football league in the United States. The league, with an initial $70 million investment from Carolina Hurricanes hockey owner Tom Dundon, operated eight teams in the south.
The two main reasons cited for the demise after but a few weeks were the NFL's refusal to allow its young players to participate in the AAF and also the league's failure to attract bettors, one of its main targets and reason for being.
But these reasons aside, the media honed in on the lack of revenue as the primary reason for its failure. Although the AAF appeared on television (at first, garnering larger ratings that some NBA games), the networks did not pay any monies to the league. In addition, the stadiums seemed empty with scant revenue coming from game day ticket sales.
Any new sports venture cannot survive without money offsetting costs. An entity can continue with owner and investor contributions. But for how long?
Major League Rugby in its second season (nine teams) has offered competitive, involving contests among the squads. Further, the matches have been aired on television weekly affording good coverage of the encounters. And print media, especially, newspapers, have been generous in their professional league rugby reporting.
This week came the news that Scottish Rugby has invested between $500.0M and $750.0M to purchase 20-percent of Old Glory DC, which will make its MLR debut in 2020 joined by the New England Free Jacks and Rugby Atlanta. The reconfigured league in 2020 will expand with the arrival in 2021 of a Dallas fifteen.
To date in 2019, MLR has operated efficiently. The salient question is what are the teams' revenues from home game attendance? Recall the defunct PRO Rugby generated only 1,700 average per game. Is MLR building a fan base locally among the rugby community? Is it attracting sports fans beyond the rugby crowd?
The history of new leagues across the entire American sports spectrum unveils a graveyard of disappointment and millions of dollars in losses. The cliché that "only time will tell" is the critical statement for MLR.