SAN FRANCISCO (CelebrityAccess) — Just eight weeks into its inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football league announced on Tuesday it was suspending operations.
“I am extremely disappointed to learn Tom Dundon has decided to suspend all football operations of the Alliance of American Football,” league co-founder Bill Polian said in a statement to ESPN. “When Mr. Dundon took over, it was the belief of my co-founder, Charlie Ebersol, and myself that we would finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.
A letter to employees, obtained by the Associated Press said a small staff would remain in place following the suspension to seek new investment capital and “restructure our business. Should those efforts prove successful, we look forward to working with many of you on season two.”
The league, which kicked off its first season in February, consists of eight centrally owned and operated teams which were located primarily in the southern and southwestern U.S., including Atlanta, Orlando, and San Diego but appeared to struggle since launch.
After the debut week of the inaugural season, Tom Dundon, owner of the NHL team Carolina Hurricanes, provided the league with $250 million in funding and took over leadership of the organization.
The league attempted to position itself as an unofficial ‘farm’ system for the industry dominant National Football League but faced many of the same challenges as the NFL, including growing unease about the safety and long-term health ramifications of the sport for its players.
The league was also dogged by rumors of financial instability, with reports of late payments and sparse equipment. According to Sports Illustrated, some players had just received promised signing bonuses a week ago, and team coaches were still without computers needed for reviewing game footage.
The abrupt suspension of operation left players in the lurch, with a source telling ESPN that many players were left to pay for their own travel home, and some players reported being evicted from housing.
Unorganized is an understatement…kicked out of our rooms (that weren’t paid apparently) 17 hours away from home with a car full of my belongings and nowhere to go…#JoinTheAlliance @TheAAF @CharlieEbersol @TDCanes @espn @BleacherReport @aafexpress
— Anthony Manzo-Lewis (@amanzolewis) April 2, 2019
Venues hosting teams affected by the league’s suspension include Georgia State Stadium, Alabama Legion Field, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Spectrum Stadium, Sun Devil Stadium, The Rice-Eccles Stadium, Alamodome, and SDCCU Stadium.