It's harebrained. It had to be the most laughable, ludicrous, loony, loopy launch of a league ever.
The North American Indoor Football League staged an official kickoff at Red's at West Edmonton Mall yesterday featuring the introduction of Tom Wilkinson as president.
You'd call it fly-by-night, but that would be an upgrade. It's a farcical, I'd go so far as to say fictitious, football league, although it does lead all leagues in alliteration.
It's the Victoria Valor, Vancouver Victory, Edmonton Extreme, Calgary Crusade, Saskatoon Swarm, Regina Rage, Winnipeg War, Toronto Terror, Ottawa Omega, Montreal Machete, Quebec Quantum, Fredericton Feud, Halifax Havoc and St. John's Storm.
How many beers, do you suppose, were involved in the naming of these teams?
Did anybody ask anybody in Winnipeg if they wanted to be the War?
Yesterday was April 1, right?
This has to be a practical joke.
There were no press conferences to launch the league in the other 13 centres yesterday. No arena arrangements have been made at GM Place, Rexall Place, Pengrowth Saddledome, Air Canada Centre, Corel Centre, Bell Centre, Pepsi Colisee, Metro Centre or any of the other locations the league lists as venues. The teams will have no owners. The league will own all the teams like the Canadian Baseball League, which lasted half a season last year. And unlike that league, this league has no visible backers, no visible financial investors.
There is no league office, although apparently they'll be looking at locations today.
There are 14 offices to be rented and furnished. There are 14 general managers, 14 head coaches, 14 receptionists, etc. to be hired. There are 14 arena deals to be done and they'll want guarantees. Lawyers will be required. You'll need 14 logos to be commissioned, 14 indoor football carpets, 14 sets of helmets, shoulder pads and other equipment to be purchased including 28 sets of uniforms. And then there are insurance policies to be paid, hotels, airlines and ground transportation to be paid in advance.
Start-up costs of this league before you play a game would be $20 million, minimum.
Show me the money.
William Warwick Jr. the head of what he calls the launch team, wasn't real good with that question in the media scrum after the grand announcement.
"The money is in place," he said.
Pressed, he couldn't point to a penny.
"I'm not interested in the money. It's not about money. We think it's about football.
"Our money is in place. We'll have the money. It will be in place. Budgets of $1.2 million per team are in place."
Asked to name a single solitary backer, he named two. Tammy Warwick. And Allison Mandryk. Tammy is his wife.
Where is Wojtek Wojcicki or Donny Ast when you need them? You remember Wojtek, the Edmonton Drillers indoor league owner? You remember Ast, a.k.a. Nestor Pistor, who brought us the short white guy basketball league team?
Edmonton has never gone for any of these kind of leagues.
Remember roller hockey? Those all looked like well-thought-out, can't-miss deals compared with this.
Further pressed, Warwick said, "The budgets will be funded by sponsorships."
Gold lifetime passes will be sold at $3,500 each, he said. He added that board advertising will go for $20,000 a spot.
"There will be advertising on helmets, advertising on jerseys, advertising on cheerleaders."
The location of the latter would be on their butts. "One restaurant already has expressed an interest in a 'Follow me to ...' ad," on a cheerleader's bottom, he said.
The press release makes grand promises.
"By the end of the summer, the NAIFL will have established its business operations in every city in the league."
And Tom Wilkinson is going to put it all together? The same Tom Wilkinson who couldn't successfully run the U of A Golden Bears is going to put together a 14-team league to start play in January?
Does this mean Wilkie is going to give up his Carpet World job?
"When I was first contacted, I was kinda interested," said Wilkinson. "The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. It will give more Canadian football players a chance to play pro football."
Wilkinson said he talked to CFL commissioner Tom Wright and several CFL general managers.
"I received a positive response," he said. "It will in no way challenge the CFL. It's in their off-season."
For more background, he said, "Ask Bill, he'll do a better job at answering them. But I'm really glad to be part of this."
So why not call it the Canadian Indoor Football League?
"There is no Arena Football League team in Madison Square Garden," said Warwick. "That's my only warning."
Warwick, the son of Billy Warwick of Canadian hockey fame, said he's already been approached by a U.S. indoor football league about a "buyout." Take it and run. Run faster than Wilkie ever ran.