Sunday, June 6, 2010

United Football League preps for season 2; Hartford Colonials set to debut

Connecticut will get a professional football team this fall in the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League.
As a Connecticut resident, I plan to support the fledgling league and new sports franchise.
The tickets are a lot less expensive than NFL games. Colonials tickets range from $15 to $30. By comparison, New York Giants tickets cost $85 to $700 each. Ouch!
But I’ll have to drive a little further to see the Colonials play. Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., is 66 miles from my home in New Canaan, Conn. By comparison, New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., where the Giants and New York Jets both play, is 49 miles door-to-door. But traffic’s worse in the New York metropolitan area so it’s probably a wash.
My only wish is to see some quality football.
The UFL’s inaugural season last year was kind of a disappointment. Attendance was low and the league didn’t get much coverage from the traditional media.
I’ve written quite a bit about what I call “fringe sports” and how difficult it is for them to break through to a mainstream audience. Factors that help this transition include television coverage, superstar players and uniqueness. (See earlier post.)
Last year, UFL games were broadcast on the Versus cable network and HDNet. This year a third TV network might be added, according to UFL Access.
In its first season, the UFL had four teams and played six games each. This year, the UFL has five teams and an eight-game schedule.
The Las Vegas Locomotives and the Florida Tuskers of Orlando are the only returning teams. The California Redwoods of the San Francisco Bay area relocated to Sacramento, Calif., as the Mountain Lions. The New York Sentinels moved to Hartford, Conn. The newest team is the Omaha Nighthawks.
San Francisco and New York City already have two NFL teams each so they never should have gotten UFL franchises in the first place. The UFL says it’s focusing now on markets not served by the NFL, which is a smart move.
The rosters of the UFL include many ex-NFL players and those who were overlooked by the NFL draft.
The hope for the UFL is that it becomes a minor or developmental league to the NFL. Some players even made the jump from the UFL to the NFL last season.
The Hartford Colonials kick off their season with a Sept. 18 home game against the Sacramento Mountain Lions.
Here’s hoping that the Colonials do better than the Sentinels did last year. The Sentinels went 0-6 and were the worst team in the UFL. No place to go but up!

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