Report: AAF Needed $250 Million Emergency Investment to Be Able to Make Payroll

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2019

Orlando Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert, left, is congratulated by teammates after catching a pass from receiver Jalin Marshall for a 5-yard touchdown during the first half of an Alliance of American Ffootball game against the Atlanta Legends on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Alliance of American Football has achieved early success during its inaugural season, but it reportedly was on the verge of collapsing recently because of financial troubles.

Fortunately for the AAF, Carolina Hurricanes majority owner Tom Dundon stepped up to save the day in the form of a $250 million investment, per The Athletic's David Glenn on Monday. 

"Without a new, nine-figure investor, nobody is sure what would have happened," a source told Glenn. "You can always tell people their checks are going to be a little late, but how many are going to show up on the weekend for games when they don't see anything hit their bank accounts on Friday?"

Dundon is expected to be announced as the league's new chairman on Tuesday.

The AAF features eight teams, with each roster consisting of 52 players. AAF co-founder Bill Polian revealed to Darren Rovell, then of ESPN, in July 2018 that players would receive three-year, non-guaranteed contracts worth $250,000. The deals were said to include health insurance and an education stipend for any player who registers one year of service time.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Trent Richardson, College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier and Super Bowl champion Mike Martz are among those participating in the AAF's first season.

With fans around the country intrigued by the new football league, the AAF scored bigger ratings than a star-studded Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder clash in the NBA during its first week of action, per Rovell.

Even with that early splash, though, the AAF found itself in an unexpected bind.

"The hope and belief now is that years from now, (the AAF) can look back and consider these some scary growing pains, because this league clearly has a chance to become incredibly successful," one source told Glenn. "The opening weekend provided a lot of excitement and hope, even beyond the TV numbers. Obviously, though, the original plan did not include a financial crisis in Week 2."

The AAF plays a 10-week schedule along with a two-round postseason.

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