NFL May Get A Rival

Die-hard football fans might have more to choose from when they turn on their TVs in a few years.

Wall Street investor Bill Hambrecht, Google Inc. executive Tim Armstrong and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are joining forces to form the United Football League, a professional league in the making to rival the NFL.

"It’s a pretty simple concept," Cuban said. "We think there is more demand for pro football than supply."

Hambrecht and Armstrong have pledged $2 million to found the league and Cuban is the first to sign on as a team owner.

The title of owner and an initial half-interest in one of the remaining seven teams can be had for $30 million. The UFL would own the other half and the teams would later sell shares to the public to raise an additional $60 million per team, according to the New York Times.

The UFL is not expecting an upfront network TV deal but is open to making a cable deal, and is willing to wait five years to see a profit. Considering the previous performance of leagues including the United States Football League, the World League of American Football and the recently departed XFL, that might be optimistic.

The league’s plan is to build the eight teams in major cities without an NFL franchise, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Mexico City.

Hambrecht is ready to give professional football another try after being a minority partner in the United States Football League’s Oakland Invaders during the ’80s.

The USFL called it quits in 1985 after three seasons, a fate similar to other football leagues that have tried to compete against the NFL.

Most recently, the NBC and World Wrestling Federation-backed XFL collapsed in 2001 after one season.

Hambrecht and co. believe this time might be different with the right game plan, patience in seeing a profit and the support of football fans who just love the game.

If the right owners and players are found, the UFL will play its first preseason games in August 2008.