Facebook Twitter

NEW PRO FOOTBALL LEAGUE PROPOSED FOR ’95

SHARE NEW PRO FOOTBALL LEAGUE PROPOSED FOR ’95

CBS has held discussions with a group claiming to represent a consortium of major advertisers about the possibility of launching a new Sunday afternoon professional football league in the fall of the 1995, senior CBS executives said Sunday.

The CBS executives, including Howard Stringer, the president of the CBS Broadcast Group, emphasized that the talks are still in preliminary stages.But they acknowledged serious interest in the potential new league, which would be backed, its organizers have told CBS, by corporations like Federal Express, Anheuser-Busch and Walt Disney Co.

The chief organizers of the new league, the CBS executives said, are Mike Lynn, the onetime general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, and commissioner of the short-lived World League of American Football, and Fred Smith, the chairman of Federal Express. Jim Spence, formerly the president of ABC Sports, is also involved, one CBS executive said.

According to a report in Monday's issue of Brandweek, an advertising trade publication, Smith held a meeting with several potential corporate sponsors for the league last week at the Federal Express headquarters in Memphis, Tenn. None of those identified as league organizers could be reached by telephone Sunday night.

The CBS executives said that the idea behind the league was to find corporations closely associated with cities that would be the home teams in the new league.

Thus, Federal Express would back the team located in its home market of Memphis. A team in St. Louis would be backed by Anheuser-Busch. Stringer said as far as he knew only Federal Express had confirmed its interest in the new league, but he agreed the notion of corporate-backed teams, which would wear uniforms festooned with corporate logos, had some viability.

One additional reason the league would be attractive is that it would automatically bring in advertisers, many of whom have been associated with NFL football in the past.

One drawback, a CBS executive said, was that rival advertisers in the same field, like Miller Beer, would not be willing to buy into a league which had a team wearing shirts advertising Budweiser.

But he said the league probably would have modest expectations, at least initially, and might be able to succeed with a more limited number of sponsors.

In addition, because the NFL has recently granted free agency to players, the league could hope to entice some name players into the league, the CBS executives said.

Joe Browne, the vice president of communications for the NFL, said, "If the organization has enough money and a willingness to spend it, then maybe they'll be able to make a go of it."

Brandweek also reported that each of the franchise owners would be required to pay $10 million over two years to enter the league. Stringer said CBS has made no financial commitment at all.