The owners of the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles and Colorado Crush, made notable for their decision this season to let fans decide almost everything, are apparently looking to start up an entire indoor football league based on that same idea.
According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Project Fanchise CEO Sohrob Farudi says that’s exactly what the group is planning, and are currently working to form a partnership with Twitch to stream all of the league’s potential games.
The group who owns the Screaming Eagles and the Crush has apparently already notified the Indoor Football League, their current league, that they plan to start it up in the near future and have named the league the Interactive Football League.
Much like how the Screaming Eagles and Crush are run, fans would decide everything in the new league, from player signings, to the plays called and everything else in between.
According to that article, the league would be made up of eight teams and they would all play in the same arena.
All of the league’s eight teams will play out of the same fully-wired facility in a city yet to be determined. Farudi calls the project a “league in a box” and said the league is considering locations in Dallas, Atlanta and Las Vegas.
Now, nothing has been officially announced yet, and the group is hoping to raise $10 million dollars to make it happen, but think of it potentially as if fantasy football came to life, and you actual did control the players on y our roster.
One big reason for Project Fanchise to want to make this move: money, of course.
WSJ reports that is costs teams around $25,000 per game to travel to road games, in addition to player salaries. So by playing every game in the same arena, they save around $200,000 in travel per team.
Personally, I think this is an insanely stupid idea. Yes, you might save $200,000 in travel, but who is going to come watch the games? If they’re all in the same city and there are eight teams, that’s four games per week in the same arena, I can’t imagine they are bringing in the 4,000 to 5,000 fans per game they currently are in Salt Lake and Colorado with that approach.
But with it all being online and supported by Amazon (who owns Twitch) it would likely be covered by sponsors and online advertising. Hell, maybe the teams will be named after products like they are in Asian baseball and soccer leagues, who really knows.
It also is a big gamble in thinking that enough people will tune in each week on Twitch for advertisers or the league to get their money’s worth. Again, that’s four games a week, and either you’re playing double-headers to cut it down to two nights a week, or you’re asking fans, again, all in one city, to tune in and vote on plays and everything else four times per week.
One other question that comes up: where the hell are you getting these players from? Currently in the world of indoor football there are at least six professional leagues, possibly more, that combine for 42 teams. And next year two of those leagues are merging and adding possibly up to four teams. Add in maybe six more with this new league (we’re counting Colorado and Salt Lake as two teams in this new league) and you’re up to around 52 indoor football teams next year.
That’s a lot of rosters to try and fill, and not at all easy to do when you’re offering guys $250 a game and expect them to practice and treat it like the NFL does, while holding down jobs that actually pay the bills. So the talent/entertainment in this league outside of having fans call the plays will be a huge question, unless this league will be willing to pay way more since they will have $0 in travel costs.
The other big question that comes up is what does this mean for the Indoor Football League, because while Salt Lake and Colordo have struggled on the field, they haven’t at the gate and are two of the league’s most-watched teams.
And apparently, Salt Lake has already told the Indoor Football League they are done after this season.
The Screaming Eagles reached an agreement to finish out the season in the Indoor Football League and those remaining games will not be affected, Farudi said. The commissioner of the IFL, Michael Allshouse, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Unless new owners step in to buy Salt Lake, and possibly Colorado who is not mentioned at all in the article, it would mean the death of at least the Screaming Eagles, and likely the Crush, dropping the Indoor Football League down to eight teams. Two of those remaining eight teams are averaging less than 1,000 fans per game, which doesn’t bode well for the league’s potential future, despite it being probably the second best indoor football league in the country.
It’s a wild idea, and the latest attempt to try and be more fan friendly, interactive, and online, but one that could have major implications on the world of minor league indoor football should it come to light.
This is a story we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on as it develops.