Football’s new game has tech moguls in the owner’s box

Oct 08, 2010

It has five teams, big time owners like Bill Hambrecht and Tim Armstrong, and even its first sold-out game. Welcome to the UFL.

By William D. Cohan

Are you ready for some more football?

Welcome to the United Football League, or UFL, now playing its second eight-game season in five smaller cities around the country. If you haven't heard of it, maybe you know some of the names behind it: Mark Cuban, billionaire founder of HDNet. Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite (n). Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL (aol) (recently spun off from the parent of Fortune's publisher, Time Warner (twx)). Quarterbacking the effort is Bill Hambrecht, co-founder of Hambrecht & Quist, the San Francisco-based investment-banking boutique he sold to Chase (jpm) in 1999 for $1.35 billion.

Together the group is hoping to deliver professional football to cities not served by the NFL, give not-quite-ready-for-primetime players a chance to show their stuff, and make a little money for themselves in the process. In the four years since Hambrecht and Armstrong cooked up the idea, they've built a league of five teams. There's the Sacramento (formerly San Francisco) Mountain Lions; the Las Vegas Locomotives; the Omaha Nighthawks; the Florida Tuskers, who play in Orlando; and the Hartford Colonials, who began life as the New York Sentinels.

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