Gene Hallman, President, and CEO of Bruno Event Team, was a guest on 3 Man Front to talk about Birmingham becoming the hub city for the USFL. He also reveal’s some USFL draft news, the USFL team ownership model and a potential owner of the New Jersey Generals.
Hallman talked about his first conversation with Brian Woods and heard about the USFL coming back. But he wanted to see if Woods was for real.
“We had a couple of conversations, and he tells me during the course of conversation that Fox is going to own the League and NBC is going to be their partner. And I said, well, I’m thinking to myself, I’m going to smoke this guy out…. I said, can I have a conversation with people at Fox? And he said, sure.
So he sent me a Zoom link and I didn’t recognize the name. So I Googled quickly and it was Eric Shanks, the CEO of Fox Sports, kind of a big name and his number two guy…. we had that call. And as soon as I hung up, it was apparent that this is dramatically different. They have the resources, the commitment, and I truly think this will make it.“
He went on to say the USFL never wanted to host their hub season in an NFL market and that Shanks and others had been eyeing Birmingham for a while. For the 2023 season, they might have all eight USFL teams in Birmingham or only 4, with the other teams in their host cities. Then by year 3 all teams will be in their host cities.
Hallman talks about how the USFL’s business model is similar to the MLS.
“It’s a business model that’s similar to the MLS, where Fox will maintain ownership of the League as a whole, and they’ll have independent owner operators in each market, much like a Chick fil A franchise. You don’t own it, but you’re a part of the action in that market…. there’ll be spaces of that community, the owner operators. “
He also talks about how former MLB SS Alex Rodriguez was in talks to own a USFL franchise.
“It was kind of funny in the very first meeting.. we were at the MLB All Star Game, and they were in the production trailer, and they had it staged…. Eric (Shanks) took his phone and tilted it to the right and said, this guy sitting beside me… is a guy we’re already talking to about being an owner operator in New Jersey. And it was A Rod… They want high profile people like that involved with their franchises.”
Hallman then talks about the relationship between Fox, the USFL, and the NFL.
“We brought this question up and they said it very humbly, but Fox pays the NFL more money than any other partner they have…. They’re the biggest rights holder…. Goddell and Eric Shanks at Fox Sports are very close friends and associates and they work closely together… the NFL is never going to make a statement about it, but they’re not going to try to obstruct or be a problem at any point. They’re going to matter of fact, be as supportive quietly as they possibly can. So there’s a good relationship between the owners of the League and the NFL, which you can’t necessarily say about the previous editions.”
He was then asked about the USFL draft taking place in February. He said the USFL has over 3000 players in their player portal, and some are high-profile names.
“They sent out an email and communication to every agent in the country, and there are thousands. And they said, please, if you have a player who meets these minimum qualifications in terms of playing ability, go to our portal and register and be eligible for the draft.
They have over 3000 people in that portal…. I’m told there’s quite a number that you would instantly recognize…. then on the 22nd, 23 February, the eight coaches will do a draft over two days, and they’ll draft 45 players for each team, 38 active roster players and seven practice squad players…. so there’s not like a situation where there’s going to be 200 players trying out for 45 spots.
They’re going to draft the 45 guys that they deem are best for their team. So there’s tons and tons of research going on among these eight coaches overall these players.
And I’m told when it’s all said and done, you’re going to have five or six solid, very high profile type names with each team, which gives it the cachet it needs to market.”
They go on to talk about the Fox and NBC simulcast and more. It is worth a listen.
The USFL is set to kick-off April 16th when the New Jersey Generals take on the Birmingham Stallions.
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