On Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn, New York, the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL rallied from a 1 – 0 deficit to score two third period goals and win game two of their Eastern Conference playoff series over the New York Islanders, 2 – 1. In doing so, they not only took a commanding 2 – 0 lead in the best-of-seven, but they have insured a more lucrative and profitable May for their owner, Thomas Dundon.
And by doing that, they simultaneously are helping creditors of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF) league, which Dundon is still financially responsible for.
First, as your will likely aware if you’re a fan a football and specifically in the state a Florida, the AAF startup Spring league went out of business last month with two weeks to go in it’s regular season. And, the Orlando franchise led by former Gators Legend Steve Spurrier as head coach, had the best record in the league and appeared to be on its way to winning the championship.
However, citing mounting financial losses, Dundon, who had taken over financial control the league in February, pulled the plug after reportedly investing $70 million over the course of seven weeks.
Further, and another final part of the story, is the Dundon and the AAF left numerous creditors from stadiums that they had a deals with, regular season contracts for coaches and players that were ended prematurely and other expenses that have gone unpaid.
Dundon and the league filed for bankruptcy and basically, have “formed a line” with those that they owe to the tune of millions of dollars.
As an example, UCF and their Spectrum Stadium never invoiced the AAF for payment, while the Orlando Apollo’s were playing home games in February and March. So, they are apparently are owed at least $1.2 million in expenses that are waiting to be paid for the four home games that were played.
And that’s where the NHL’s Hurricanes, which Dundon purchased in early 2018, come in as a possible financial benefit for those AAF creditors.
That’s because, major professional sports playoff games are big business for teams. In particular in the NHL, the players are no longer being paid in the postseason by the owner(s) of the team. Instead, they’re being paid out of a fund from the National Hockey League on a scale, according to how long the team remains alive and how many more home games it continues to win.
As an NHL source explained to F.F.I., when the Hurricanes play a home playoff game in Raleigh they are making massive individual game profit for Dundon; probably to the tune of $1-1.5 million a game.
And it’s not hard to run the numbers, that Carolina already played three home games in their opening-round seven-game series upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. And, that guaranteed them two more home games in this current series with New York.
And further, now that they’ve beaten the Islanders twice on the road, they not only will get these two upcoming home games at PNC arena in Raleigh, but potentially have a “game six” home game looming, if needed, as well.
Carolina currently stands to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, which will be even more lucrative for Dundon, as his team would receive a guaranteed two more home playoff games with the potential for three or 4 more home games, depending on the opponent and how long the series goes.
Then, obviously, if Carolina makes the Stanley Cup final round, it’s at least two more home games and even more massive game to game profit.
Our source further enlightened us, that Carolina/Dundon playing home games in the Raleigh/Durham market means: his regular tickets, club seats and suite revenue along with concessions, merchandise and all the other ancillary money for these home games is worth even more than in markets like New York, Boston, etc. In those larger markets, his costs would have been much more and his profit would be less game to game.
So, it appears on the “crude math:” that Dundon easily made $2-3 million dollars profit from the opening round of the Stanley Cup, and will easily make $2 – 3 million more for this round. And, they now potentially can make as much as, $4 – 6 million over the course of the next two rounds, if they make it there/last that long in the playoffs.
Therefore, you better believe that those that are still owed money by the Dundon and the AAF, are watching. And, they will be rushing to the bankruptcy courts to point out the pure tangible profit Dundon is making from his Carolina hockey team. Profit, that can be used to satisfy his and the defunct league’s debts.
So, even outside of the Raleigh-Durham North Carolina market, there’s small contingent of unpaid former AAF employees, players (Orlando included), creditors, etc. who are cheering them and their profitable home games on, for the rest of May.
XFL Week two TV ratings took expected dip in audience
The week two XFL television ratings are in and not surprisingly, the audience dropped off some for ABC / ESPN and Fox Sports.
Showbuzzdaily. Com had the official ratings for Saturday and Sunday for the rebirth of wrestling promoter Vince McMahon’s Spring football league:
— Mitch Metcalf/Salem (@ShowBuzzDaily) February 17, 2020
Most notably, ABC lost more than 30% of its audience in week 2 on it’s Saturday afternoon broadcast of the New York Guardians at the D.C. Defenders. After debuting with a strong 3.3 million average audience in week one that number was down to just over 2.1 million Saturday.
It did not help the D.C. dominated the game and there was not much drama, especially in the second half.
As for the Tampa Bay Vipers game at the Seattle Dragons on Fox that followed, that game actually did better in average audience with just over 2.3 million for Saturday afternoon. Still, that audience number was approximately half a million less then the Fox late game last Saturday between Houston and L.A.
The Sunday early game, again on ABC, had Dallas at Los Angeles with 2.4 million people on average watching. That number was almost identical to the Sunday early game the previous week on Fox Sports between Tampa Bay and New York.
The final game of XFL second weekend saw St Louis battle Houston, but on Fox Sports 1 cable. And, predictably, the audience suffered from the game not being on network TV.
The average audience was only 1.4 million on the cable channel, which was going to be understandably less then on Fox’s over-the-air network. A week ago the late Sunday broadcast on Fox averaged 2.5 million.
Fox Sports was broadcasting the NASCAR 2020 debut of its season (and most popular race) the rain delayed Daytona 500 last Sunday afternoon and evening.
Again, when you factor in that the novelty was going to wear off in the second week and beyond with previous examples of audience drop off from last year’s Alliance of American Football debut to week two, this is not unexpected news.
And, as we wrote previously, this circumstance is different for McMahon’s reboot of the XFL then it’s first season of 2001. That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating. That translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV debut. A Smashing success.
However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on Saturday night’s on NBC.
That was audience and revenue disaster for McMahon, NBC and the league, as they watched it all unravel in a few short weeks.
This time, the deals are to have the games on in the weekend afternoons with three of them on network TV every week. It’s less risky for all.
Further, in 2020, McMahon has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings do come down some or significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.
At least, that’s what we think.
ACC latest conference wanting immediate eligibility for transfers
On Monday afternoon, the ACC became the second “Power 5” conference to come out in favor of allowing transfers to be immediately eligible to play for their new school. And now, we wait to see how much momentum this gains and how much more craziness it will bring to the NCAA transfer portal?
Statement from the ACC on transfer opportunity: pic.twitter.com/2oMEKNOSFB
— The ACC (@theACC) February 17, 2020
With that public acknowledgement, the fourteen members (plus sort of Notre Dame for football) in the ACC are joining the Big Ten in calling on the NCAA to relax the transfer eligibility rules. Those have been in place for decades, and currently, unless there are extenuating circumstances or the player is a graduate from the school that he’s leaving, the players usually have to sit out one year of competition from the time of transfer.
However, numerous players have gotten around this, including Miami getting transfer quarterback Tate Martell from Ohio State this time a year ago and having him win a waiver from the NCAA to let him be immediately eligible. Martell failed to win the starting quarterback job in Coral Gables this past season, but that’s beside the point.
And, a prominent example of the graduate transfer loophole that exists, included Florida State utilizing Wisconsin transfer QB Alex Hornibrook (above) to play immediately during last year dismal 2019 season. Hornibrook, who had led the Badgers to an Orange Bowl win two seasons earlier, play sparingly for FSU in 2019.
The further argument is: that the NCAA places no restrictions on coaches jumping from school to school to immediately coach the following season. And, even in awful looking situations like Colorado’s former coach, Mel Tucker, leaving after the second high school National Signing Day and taking the Michigan State vacancy with no waiting, last week.
Yet, the Colorado players (and any players left behind by their coach departing) are subject to the transfer rules/portal.
Ultimately, it will be up to the NCAA to decide how to do change the rules, but with dozens and dozens of players, annually, looking to transfer and play immediately, it does seem that the governing body of college sports should do something.
And, there’s always the possibility that these power conferences, including the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 could look to break away from the NCAA rules and make their own, somewhere down the road.
There is no firm timetable, yet to rule on the “immediate eligibility” suggestions of the Big Ten and the ACC.
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