- Do you have a spare $500 million for a local football team?
Hey, San Antonio: The Raiders just aren't that into you.
The Alamo City continues to play the will-they-won't-they game with the Oakland Raiders, but let's be real: they won't.
San Antonio's long-held dream of hosting a sustainable pro football franchise may not be completely dashed, however, as a proposed pro league name-dropped the Alamo City as a potential spot for operations, along with Portland and Orlando.
All they need to do is raise a half a billion dollars.
That league in question is the United States Football League (USFL), a possible spring development league with teams in eight cities and a 14-game schedule. Earlier this month, the USFL issued a press release announcing the organization's intention to choose "cities that do not have an NFL or a Major League Baseball team but have demonstrated an appreciation of football."
Given our city's previous and current pro league dalliances, the mere mention of "San Antonio" and "football" in the same sentence should muster nothing more than cautious optimism.
Longtime residents may recall the ill-fated USFL of the '80s, which brought the San Antonio Gunslingers to Alamo Stadium. That team dissolved after just two seasons because its owner couldn't pay players.
Today's USFL shares no association with its predecessor. And the current USFL is still a business proposition, rather than an operating business.
The USFL has not spoken with city officials about a league franchise, USFL CEO Jim Bailey told the San Antonio Current, adding no discussions are planned.
Right now the focus is on raising cash.
"We want to launch as soon as we can. But we want to make sure we are fully capitalized before we begin," Bailey said.
"Fully capitalized" translates to $500 million, the amount Bailey says is needed to build a financial foundation to sustain the early years until the league is profitable.
Currently, the USFL is seeking a strategic partner willing to invest $5 million, which combined with previously invested capital, would be used to secure an additional $500 million in private- and public-investment dollars.
The reincarnation of the USFL is not an overnight development. Efforts to revive the league date back to 2008, and USFL ownership has changed hands three times. Bailey's Touchdown Management, LLC acquired the USFL rights in 2013, after Jaime Cuadra, Bailey's predecessor, resigned amid a $1 million embezzlement scandal. Cuadra was convicted and sentenced to four years for his crime.
While promoting the USFL, Bailey is careful not to over-promise and under-deliver and stops short of guaranteeing a local USFL team.
"Our objective is to make ourselves known. We need to have people of aware of us," he said.