December 6, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 2 comments
Ultiworld reported this week that the AUDL’s New Jersey Hammerheads would not be returning for the 2014 season due to financial struggles.
What does this mean for the AUDL?
In my mind, not much. It is no secret that New Jersey — and many of the league’s East Coast teams — struggled last season. Bounded by Philly and New York teams, Jersey never really had a chance to draw many fans and had to rely on a thin talent pool.
The AUDL’s model — individually owned and operated franchises with nearly all risk being assumed by the team owner — asks a lot of each individual team. Even the front office expects some teams to fall apart when profits don’t materialize in the course of one or two seasons.
Many upstart pro sports leagues have felt the ebb and flow of expansion and contraction. Major League Lacrosse has folded six teams since its 2001 inception. Major League Soccer lost two Florida-based teams early last decade. Both leagues are many times the size of either of the semi-pro ultimate leagues.
There is a good argument for losing teams being bad for the league’s overall brand. That may be true. But, in many ways, the AUDL is still finding its footing after a disorganized first year and a leadership change a year ago. Losing a team is nothing compared to the Connecticut Constitution lawsuit in 2012.