Welcome to the World Football League Website

WFL Newspaper Archives

New York Times, April 17, 1975

WFL Is Replaced By 'NEW' WFL

By William N. Wallace

The World Football League will attempt a second season, starting in late July, with 10 teams, eight of them under new ownership and all of them newly capitalized. Chris Hemmeter, the 35-year old businessman from Honolulu who has been the architect of the reorganization over the last four months, announced the plans here yesterday for the league, which included its first season almost $10 million in debt.

The orchestration of Hemmeter's theme included the title "the NEW World Football League," and such words as "credible, prudent, responsible and conservative."

Teams will be located in Philadelphia, Chicago, Memphis, Honolulu, Birmingham, Alabama, Anaheim, California, Jacksonville, Florida, Shreveport, Louisiana, Charlotte, North Carolina and San Antonio, Texas.

All but the last city had a WFL team last year when the league began with 12 franchises and concluded with nine. Those failing to finish the season were the Chicago Fire, the Detroit Wheels and the Jacksonville Sharks. Of this year's 10 franchises, only Memphis and Philadelphia will retain last year's ownership.

These were highlights of the Hemmeter presentation:

Joe Namath has indeed been offered $4 million to join the Chicago team whose ownership, headed by Eugene Pullano, is based on such an acquisition. Should the Namath enticement fail and Pullano pull out, others would take over in Chicago where last year's owner, Tom Origer, lost a reported $1 million.

Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick, the most celebrated of the athletes attracted from the established National Football League, will definitely play for the Memphis team owned by John Bassett of Toronto, who signed them to personal-service contracts. They were present at yesterday's news conference.

The new operating procedures, called The Hemmeter Plan, call for all but the highest priced players like Csonka, or Calvin Hill of Honolulu, to share the net income with their team owners. If there is no income they will receive the minimum salary, $500 a game for 20 games. The concept of profit-sharing is highly unusual for pro sports and one which the players according to WFL sources will accept.

All past debts will be paid, Hemmeter said, including back salary to players, Internal Revenue Service obligations and such items as refunds to season ticket-holders of the New York Stars, a team that moved to Charlotte in midseason.

The specific known debt for last season's disaster came to $1.2 million for league headquarters; $6.2 million for holdover franchises and an estimated $2.6 million for such bankrupt operations as the Wheels, the Sharks, the Florida Blazers and the Birmingham Americans.

New owing groups were required to put up from $600,000 to $1.5 million in fresh capital depending upon holdover debt. The break even cost of a franchise for the coming season will be based upon attracting crowds averaging 14,000 at $7 a ticket. Operating cost are estimated at $650,000 or about one-third of that for WFL teams last year and about one-sixth of that for NFL teams.

Games will be played on Saturday nights and Sundays, with possibly one nationally televised game each Thursday night. This means most of the games will be competing with college and high school football on Saturdays and NFL television on Sundays. League headquarters will be moved from Newport Beach, California to New York and Hemmeter will be president.

The WFL is not counting upon television income as a major source of revenue. It is hoped television can produce $100,000 for each team, against $75,000 last season, money that never reached team levels as it was used, for example, to pay player salaries of the busted Florida Blazers. Television income for NFL teams is $2.2 million.

A franchise for New York is "essential" and the league hopes to have one here by 1976.

"When I started this reorganization," said Hemmeter, a minor investor in the Honolulu team last year, "I didn't feel secure. Now I do."

Csonka added, "I think the league will hold out. I just hope my knees do."

The team leaders, most of them businessman recruited by Hemmeter and the league counsel, Don Regan, are Hawaii, Edward D. Sultan Jr.; Southern California, Sam Battistone; Shreveport, John Atkins Jr.; San Antonio, Norm Bevan; Birmingham, Fred Weil; Chicago, Eugene Pullano; Philadelphia, John Bosacco; Memphis, John Bassett Jr.; Jacksonville, Earl Knabb, and Charlotte, Upton Bell.