Struggling UFL to cut season short
OMAHA, Neb. (AP)
The struggling United Football League is cutting its season short, moving up its championship game to Friday.
UFL founder and owner Bill Hambrecht said in a statement Monday that the league would turn its focus to ''building a blueprint for the long-term success of the league'' and that there were plans to expand from four to six teams in 2012.
Each team has played four of its six regular-season games in a league that has lost more than $100 million the last two years.
The Las Vegas Locos (3-1) will visit the Virginia Destroyers (3-1) in the championship game. The Sacramento Mountain Lions (1-3) will visit the Omaha Nighthawks (1-3) on Friday in what the league calls the consolation game.
Commissioner Michael Huyghue did not immediately return a phone message.
The league is made up of players who were cut in NFL training camps, veterans who want to get back to the NFL and free agents. Players are paid $5,000 a game.
Eliminating the final two weeks of the regular season will save the league the cost of salaries and team operations. The UFL has unpaid bills totaling in the millions of dollars in its franchise cities.
''This strategy of moving straight to the championship game is the best means by which to take the UFL forward,'' Hambrecht said. ''We faced many challenges during the offseason but were still able to kick off our third season.''
The UFL had hoped to gain exposure in the vacuum left by a locked-out NFL. The initial plan called for the UFL season to start in August so the league possibly could fill television time slots normally taken by NFL exhibition games.
When it became apparent that the NFL labor issues would be resolved in time to save most of the preseason, the UFL announced it would go back to its usual September start.
The UFL unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a revenue-generating television deal with CBS and TNT in the summer, when it appeared the NFL lockout would create a dearth of pro football. Versus had televised games last season, but the league had to pay production costs.
In August, the Hartford, Conn., franchise was shut down because of high operating costs. Huyghue said then that the league projected it would lose money the first three years but needed help from new investors, a revenue-producing television contract, a partnership with the NFL or a combination of all three.
The UFL's majority owners are Hambrecht, Paul Pelosi and Bill Mayer.
More than 100 UFL players have signed contracts with NFL teams after the UFL season has ended the past two years.