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.
Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?
For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.
First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to Showbuzzdaily.com all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.
That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.
The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.
Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.
And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001. That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. 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 a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.
Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly 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 continue come down 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.
Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener
Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.
Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.
The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.
However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.
Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.
Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.
Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.
The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.
Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.
The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.
The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.
However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.
And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.