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The New York Times, Thursday, October 4, 1973

New Pro Football League Plans to Start in 1974 With 12 Teams

By William N. Wallace

Plans were announced yesterday for a new 12 team professional football league that would attempt to play at a major league level beginning next year. Its name would be the World Football League and eventually it would have teams abroad. It would have a team in New York to succeed the Giants at Yankee Stadium.

The League is the concept of Gary L. Davidson, who has experience in this line of work. Davidson, a 38 year old California attorney, was a founder of the American Basketball Association and the World Hockey Association, both of which have survived against established competitors like the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.

Davidson is also an organizer of the World Team Tennis, a 16-unit league beginning its first season next May, although so far it has signed only a few stars including Mrs. Billie Jean King.

Speaking from Newport Beach, California where he directs the WHA as its President, Davidson said six football franchises were definite and he named owners. These would be in New York, Boston, Anaheim, California; Vancouver, British Columbia; Toronto and another site to be determined.

He also spoke of teams in Mexico City, London, Rome, Dusseldorf, Germany; Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, but those would be in the future.

More likely sites at the start would be Chicago, Seattle, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; Memphis, Birmingham, Alabama, and Honolulu according to Davidson.

"We"re going to try to loosen everybody up a little with a bright new look to the sport," he said. "Possible rule differences from the NFL would be the 2-point conversion, kickoffs from the 35-yard line and mandatory punt returns rather than fair catches.

Where would the players come from?

"There"s no shortage," said Davidson. "There are 7,000 in colleges. We would also take some from the semi-pros, some from the Canadian League, some who had been cut and some who played out their options in the NFL."

The last reference indicated that the new league as did the ABA and WHA would be ready to raid the old league.

NFL players would welcome a competing league, hoping salaries would rise. Players feel their salaries compare unfavorably with basketball and hockey athletes.

"We want to go from the outhouse to the penthouse," said one Giants player at practice yesterday. Another said he was ready to form a syndicate and bid for a WFL franchise.

The initial price for a franchise was said to be $250,000 which would be about $18 million less than the fee the NFL will set for its two or four expansion franchises next year.

Davidson named these principals; Robert Schmertz, New York, Nick Mileti, Cleveland; John Bassett Jr., Toronto; Howard L. Baldwin, Boston, and Steve Arnold, New York. Schmertz is chief executive of the Boston Celtics of the NBA and the New England Whalers of the WHA.

He has planned before to put a football team in Yankee Stadium, but does not know where the games would be played while the stadium is rebuilt.

Mileti is the head of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA, a team with over $1-million in debts, and the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA. His football club would play in a city other then Cleveland.

Baldwin is a part-owner of the Whalers. Bassett heads the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League which would be threatened. Arnold is a player agent and personnel director of the WHL. Davidson, too would take a franchise at the start as he did in the basketball and hockey leagues, and sell it later.

High start-up costs and obtaining television exposure are the foremost of many obstacles facing such an enterprise, Davidson acknowledged.