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Sacramento Mountain Lions team owner Pelosi promises back pay for coaches

Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013 6:11 am
by Aaronhere
And they still talk about coming back???

Paul Pelosi, the politically connected owner of Sacramento's idled minor league football team, is being sued by a group of former coaches for back pay.

Pelosi, majority owner of the Sacramento Mountain Lions and husband of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told The Bee on Tuesday that he will make good on the debts.

The prominent Bay Area businessman also said he hopes the Mountain Lions can resume play, possibly next spring – along with the other members of the moribund United Football League.

He acknowledged that reviving the franchise requires paying off old debts first. "It can't happen until we get all the damn bills paid quickly," he said.

The Mountain Lions and the other three teams in the UFL suspended operations in midseason last October, citing cash flow problems.

After playing previous seasons in San Francisco and at Sacramento State's Hornets Stadium, the Mountain Lions played last fall's home games at Raley Field to sparse crowds.

At the time that play was suspended, Pelosi pledged to make good on all debts and resume operations in spring 2013. On Tuesday, Pelosi said league owners are looking at a 2014 restart.

He said Mountain Lion players have been paid but coaches and various trade vendors haven't.

"I'm committed to pay them, and they will be paid," Pelosi added.

He said he has the assets to repay the Lions' debts but is short on cash. He and his partners in the team would need to liquidate some assets or find loans in order to make good on the debts.

"I blew my liquidity on last year's activities," he said, referring to the team's woes.

Former head coach Dennis Green, who previously coached Stanford and the Minnesota Vikings, sued the Mountain Lions and the league last August, saying he was owed more than $1 million in back pay. The case has gone to arbitration, according to court records.

Last week, Pelosi and the Lions were sued by four former assistant coaches: Rick Courtright; Chuck Bresnahan, who once coached with the Raiders; Fabien Bownes; and Kerry Locklin. Also suing is Garrett Wolfe, who was the team's video assistant.

The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, seeks back pay totaling more than $200,000.

In court papers, the men say Pelosi lured them into going to work for the Mountain Lions by claiming the team "was in excellent financial condition."

The five are represented by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. She told the San Francisco Chronicle the lawsuit has nothing to do with Pelosi's Democratic connections.

Pelosi said he believes the league can be revived next spring, including the Mountain Lions. "Sacramento is an excellent market," he said.

One hurdle would be finding a place to play. A spring schedule at Raley Field would bring too many conflicts with the River Cats baseball team, he said.

He said he believes coaches of other UFL franchises are also owed money.

When it suspended operations, the UFL had just four teams, in Sacramento, Las Vegas, Omaha, Neb., and Virginia Beach, Va.

Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/07/17 ... rylink=cpy

Posted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:22 pm
by 4th&long
[quote=""Aaronhere""]And they still talk about coming back???

Paul Pelosi, the politically connected owner of Sacramento's idled minor league football team, is being sued by a group of former coaches for back pay.

Pelosi, majority owner of the Sacramento Mountain Lions and husband of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told The Bee on Tuesday that he will make good on the debts.

The prominent Bay Area businessman also said he hopes the Mountain Lions can resume play, possibly next spring – along with the other members of the moribund United Football League.

He acknowledged that reviving the franchise requires paying off old debts first. "It can't happen until we get all the damn bills paid quickly," he said.

The Mountain Lions and the other three teams in the UFL suspended operations in midseason last October, citing cash flow problems.

After playing previous seasons in San Francisco and at Sacramento State's Hornets Stadium, the Mountain Lions played last fall's home games at Raley Field to sparse crowds.

At the time that play was suspended, Pelosi pledged to make good on all debts and resume operations in spring 2013. On Tuesday, Pelosi said league owners are looking at a 2014 restart.

He said Mountain Lion players have been paid but coaches and various trade vendors haven't.

"I'm committed to pay them, and they will be paid," Pelosi added.

He said he has the assets to repay the Lions' debts but is short on cash. He and his partners in the team would need to liquidate some assets or find loans in order to make good on the debts.

"I blew my liquidity on last year's activities," he said, referring to the team's woes.

Former head coach Dennis Green, who previously coached Stanford and the Minnesota Vikings, sued the Mountain Lions and the league last August, saying he was owed more than $1 million in back pay. The case has gone to arbitration, according to court records.

Last week, Pelosi and the Lions were sued by four former assistant coaches: Rick Courtright; Chuck Bresnahan, who once coached with the Raiders; Fabien Bownes; and Kerry Locklin. Also suing is Garrett Wolfe, who was the team's video assistant.

The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, seeks back pay totaling more than $200,000.

In court papers, the men say Pelosi lured them into going to work for the Mountain Lions by claiming the team "was in excellent financial condition."

The five are represented by attorney Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. She told the San Francisco Chronicle the lawsuit has nothing to do with Pelosi's Democratic connections.

Pelosi said he believes the league can be revived next spring, including the Mountain Lions. "Sacramento is an excellent market," he said.

One hurdle would be finding a place to play. A spring schedule at Raley Field would bring too many conflicts with the River Cats baseball team, he said.

He said he believes coaches of other UFL franchises are also owed money.

When it suspended operations, the UFL had just four teams, in Sacramento, Las Vegas, Omaha, Neb., and Virginia Beach, Va.

Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/07/17 ... rylink=cpy[/quote]

A lot of things contributed to the demise of the UFL,

starting the year after the biggest recessions in decades
Not taking advantage of the ArenaFL collapse to substantial lower costs
Not having solidified team locations
Poor locations (LV)
Not enough ownership
Over spending in many areas under in others
Putting the cart before the horse eg buying air time without advertising the games on tv

But worst was having others control the money OPP, Giving too much rope to Michael Huygue who was operating like NFL jr when he should have been cost controlling and build up. Isn't that why you do a soft launch? What was he making in excess of $3mm a year? Oversaw losses of $120-150mm, what a disaster he was. But he made a mint.

The UFL ownership changed direction too late and then made bad people impacting decisions ie not paying for games played. Too little too late and in bad taste.

Some owners may have paid I hope for the players.

It was a great idea IMO, ask McCown, Gruden, Mcvay and Rhodes. Along with a bunch of players making some money along the way. What a shame.

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 8:01 pm
by preeths
The entire UFL plan was fatally flawed from the beginning. Once the league chose to play in the fall, it gave itself no chance. I don't believe anyone could have made it work, but the league was somehow able to compound its errors anyway.

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:31 pm
by 4th&long
[quote=""preeths""]The entire UFL plan was fatally flawed from the beginning. Once the league chose to play in the fall, it gave itself no chance. I don't believe anyone could have made it work, but the league was somehow able to compound its errors anyway.[/quote]

I dont believe being in the fall was the reason, not at all. Its has its unique challenges just like indoor football in the spring and summer. I do agree they had (or didn't) have a fatally approached. My list above wasn't complete of course but covers some real issues the league had.

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:45 pm
by preeths
I think the main unique challenge is that an alternative league can't get any attention in the fall: not from the media, not from a television network that will pay, not from sponsors, not from fans, not locally and not nationally. I firmly believe it cannot work in the fall. Outdoor football is tremendously expensive, and a new league is a tough gig regardless of the season. But playing in the fall gave the UFL no chance at all. They lost tens of millions of dollars and didn't earn even a tiny niche in the sports world. The number of people who really cared about the league's demise wouldn't even fill a small college stadium.

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:50 am
by 4th&long
[quote=""preeths""]I think the main unique challenge is that an alternative league can't get any attention in the fall: not from the media, not from a television network that will pay, not from sponsors, not from fans, not locally and not nationally. I firmly believe it cannot work in the fall. Outdoor football is tremendously expensive, and a new league is a tough gig regardless of the season. But playing in the fall gave the UFL no chance at all. They lost tens of millions of dollars and didn't earn even a tiny niche in the sports world. The number of people who really cared about the league's demise wouldn't even fill a small college stadium.[/quote]

Well, I hear what u are saying but don't agree at least to your conclusions. The fall does have risks but potential as well. It also has a dearth of players looking for an opportunity that a smaller league can provide. When the afl started the USA population was half what it is today, and now FB is bigger than ever. Cities like SA, LA, VB, Sacramento, Portland, Orlando, OKC, SLC, ..... you get the point.

Tv FB is also bigger than ever. And unlike other sports FB is very limited to days it's played leaving 4 days w/o FB. An alt league only needs a small fraction of the tv revenue compared to nfl.

Yes Huygue screwed the pouch and Hambrecht and co was asleep at the wheel, the money spent was squandered no doubt. But baseball, hockey minors make it during the same time as their majors. FB can as well, and likely better since it'll be more congruent rated talent wise in a larger sport.

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:15 am
by tops804
[quote=""4th&long""]Well, I hear what u are saying but don't agree at least to your conclusions. The fall does have risks but potential as well. It also has a dearth of players looking for an opportunity that a smaller league can provide. When the afl started the USA population was half what it is today, and now FB is bigger than ever. Cities like SA, LA, VB, Sacramento, Portland, Orlando, OKC, SLC, ..... you get the point.[/quote]

You forget that when AFL started, it saw a need to fill niche cities, not the one's you are suggesting. You also forget that back then, network television wasn't what it is today with big NFL contracts, and cable TV didn't exist. Not to mention TV's burgeoning college football schedule (What did we see? Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday Night...To name a few).
Tv FB is also bigger than ever. And unlike other sports FB is very limited to days it's played leaving 4 days w/o FB.


True...But see above.
An alt league only needs a small fraction of the tv revenue compared to nfl.
True...But no network executive or big business in his right mind is going to put up those dollars. It's still a large amount, and larger risk.

I wonder how many viewers of the inaugural UFL game remember one advertisement during it.

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:33 am
by 4th&long
[quote=""tops804""]You forget that when AFL (edit - yes the 1960's league) started, it saw a need to fill niche cities, not the one's you are suggesting. You also forget that back then, network television wasn't what it is today with big NFL contracts, and cable TV didn't exist. Not to mention TV's burgeoning college football schedule (What did we see? Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday Night...To name a few).


True...But see above.



True...But no network executive or big business in his right mind is going to put up those dollars. It's still a large amount, and larger risk.

I wonder how many viewers of the inaugural UFL game remember one advertisement during it.[/quote]

The cities I listed are the AFL cities of today. Bigger actually. True about the tv nets but the money is similar on the sports nets currently. And there are scores more of those today than ever and are desperate for programming. Even espn went back to the super scaled down ArenaFL just this month.

I don't see the tv investment as a large amount, 4-12mm a year is pocket change. But they want to see stability and commitment, something that's hard to come by. I mean getting 232k viewers for an MLS game gets a contract from espn. Nbcsn was getting 112k. Isn't real FB worth a shot, especially with a Tim tebow or similar to get interest? Those cities alone could get 200k.

Now the risk of pissing off the nfl, that maybe a bigger issue.

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:36 am
by tops804
[quote=""4th&long""]The cities I listed are the AFL cities of today. Bigger actually. [/quote]

My bad, as I believed you were referring to the American Football League of the 1960's. But seriously, you want to suit up an Arena city as being capable of supporting an outdoor, fall league. That is dreaming, at best.

True about the tv nets but the money is similar on the sports nets currently. And there are scores more of those today than ever and are desperate for programming. Even espn went back to the super scaled down ArenaFL just this month.
Airing a fantasy fall football league game is another. Did ESPN jump at the UFL? Major four over-air networks? The old WFL of 1974 (slated to be a July - November league) did have a TV contract in 1974. Different story in 1975, and look what happened there.
I don't see the tv investment as a large amount, 4-12mm a year is pocket change.
To you, maybe...But do you do low interest loans?
But they want to see stability and commitment, something that's hard to come by.


As CBS Sports Network learned a few years back.
I mean getting 232k viewers for an MLS game gets a contract from espn. Nbcsn was getting 112k.


There is more to those contracts then just the viewers.
Isn't real FB worth a shot, especially with a Tim tebow or similar to get interest? Those cities alone could get 200k.
You use Tim Tebow, and "real football" in the same sentence? Sign 'em up to the Los Angeles Destroyers, Portland Pirates, or whatever other team you dream up. They won't need to hire much extra help with stadium security. Again, they may get a viewer or two in the beginning, but sooner than Tebow throws to nobody, and somebody intercepts it. It will be Steve Young and the Express all over again. People have better things to do with their time.
Now the risk of pissing off the nfl, that maybe a bigger issue.
Not really, as the NFL sees no logical threat. If it did, it would probably be the first in line to invest.

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:22 am
by 4th&long
[quote=""4th&long""]The cities I listed are the AFL cities of today. Bigger actually. True about the tv nets but the money is similar on the sports nets currently. And there are scores more of those today than ever and are desperate for programming. Even espn went back to the super scaled down ArenaFL just this month.

I don't see the tv investment as a large amount, 4-12mm a year is pocket change. But they want to see stability and commitment, something that's hard to come by. I mean getting 232k viewers for an MLS game gets a contract from espn. Nbcsn was getting 112k. Isn't real FB worth a shot, especially with a Tim tebow or similar to get interest? Those cities alone could get 200k.

Now the risk of pissing off the nfl, that maybe a bigger issue.[/quote]

[quote=""tops804""]My bad, as I believed you were referring to the American Football League of the 1960's. But seriously, you want to suit up an Arena city as being capable of supporting an outdoor, fall league. That is dreaming, at best.

Airing a fantasy fall football league game is another. Did ESPN jump at the UFL? Major four over-air networks? The old WFL of 1974 (slated to be a July - November league) did have a TV contract in 1974. Different story in 1975, and look what happened there.

To you, maybe...But do you do low interest loans?

As CBS Sports Network learned a few years back.

There is more to those contracts then just the viewers.

You use Tim Tebow, and "real football" in the same sentence? Sign 'em up to the Los Angeles Destroyers, Portland Pirates, or whatever other team you dream up. They won't need to hire much extra help with stadium security. Again, they may get a viewer or two in the beginning, but sooner than Tebow throws to nobody, and somebody intercepts it. It will be Steve Young and the Express all over again. People have better things to do with their time.

Not really, as the NFL sees no logical threat. If it did, it would probably be the first in line to invest.[/quote]

Please excuse my inability to parse the quotes like u - i need to figure that out....

Anyway... No you were correct the AFL i was indicating was the original 60's league which I'll stick to here.

No you are correct no one did jump at the UFL, it was too underfunded, mismanaged and financially nonviable as structured. That was the turnoff IMO.

Not sure what you mean by low interest loans but 4mm for a net is low money. They've invested (spent) more on much worse.

The CBS SN deal was a pay deal, like early MLS. Not a bad rate for the UFL - much better than the Versus and HDnet deals from what I gathered but it was the right approach at the wrong time (when cash was almost out)

Can you clarify line about more than those contracts than just the viewers? ie MLS comment

I disagree with the Tim Tebow (just an example) reference. IMO (and I really mean not to insult anyone at all, its still a great game) but UFL far exceeded Top 10 CFB, hands down. No I don;t expect NFL or even NHL numbers of viewers, but MLS/WNBA - yes that's doable - hell the UFL did it on occassion in yr 2 despite the issues.

While you say the NFL see no logical threat - i disagree (i do agree in a practical sense). Like any monopoly they do not want to open the door even a crack. They've locked up every major network to spread the NFL 'wealth' so all have something at stake. So while they'll not outwardly care they will want to squash it. The WLAF was a cock block IMO on the PSFL (ie any spring FB) for example. And BTW the WFAL was hog tied to the dismay of ITS investors by the NFL which is why they decided to cash out mostly. A minor league approach under the radar is the likely way to avoid issues upfront.

Anyway - good posting!