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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