Daytona Beach, FL -
Daytona Beach becomes the first city to be awarded a franchise for a new professional football league which will start play in Spring 2019.
The American Patriot League - part of the World Professional Football Association - announced today (October 9th) that Daytona Beach will be among the first 10 cities to field a team for the league, which plans to play a 16-game regular season schedule starting in February. Most of those games will be played on weekends during the day.
The regular season will be followed by a total of five playoff games, ending with the APL Championship played during the 4th of July weekend on the campus of the United States Naval Academy in Maryland. It's scheduled for July 6th, which falls on a Saturday.
Daytona's team will play its first season at Daytona Stadium, which is currently undergoing over $20 million in renovations as part of a 30-year-lease DME Stadium, LLC signed with the City of Daytona Beach in February
The team's nickname - as will be the case for the other nine APL franchises starting play next spring - will be chosen by the fans as part of a naming contest where the league will accept submissions from fans. That should begin in a few weeks, per the APL website.
APL Managing Director Marques Ogden - a former National Football League offensive lineman who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens during his five-year career - sees the league as a place where college football players and current pros who don't make NFL rosters can keep their gridiron dreams alive.
"We want a fan-friendly league that's fun to watch," Ogden added. "The goal is getting people to make a family day centered around coming to the games."
Bob Golic - another APL Managing Director who played 14 years in the NFL as a defensive lineman for the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Raiders - stated emphatically during today's press conference at DME Sports Academy that none of the 500 or so players who make an APL roster will be allowed to kneel during the national anthem, a marked contrast from current NFL policy.
"We will work with communities in the off-season to take care of any of the programs and social issues," Golic added.
The third APL Managing Director is Keon Lattimore, another former NFL player who spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
A key component of the new league, according to Ogden, is requiring the players to be heavily involved in the community and engage the fans at a level that just isn't seen in today's NFL.
"It's that commitment to our fans and their communities that is inspiring them to put their support behind the league," Ogden noted.
To incentivize players from leaving the league for other leagues, the APL plans to offer - among other things - lifetime health coverage for anyone who stays at least five seasons along with a minimum salary of $50,000 a season to all players.
Part of the league's strategy for financial survival includes establishing itself in markets where there's a passion for football and where there aren't many - if any - other pro sports franchises in place. Those are the main reasons, according to Ogden, why the league preferred Daytona Beach to Orlando.
"You are never going to compete with the NFL. If that is your gameplan, you are doomed to fail," Ogden stated. "We are here to give people a good football-quality product in the springtime [which is] very affordable to go watch a game."
Some tickets for the games in Daytona will be sold for as little as $20 per game.
The APL plans to announce the other nine cities once stadium leases are in place, as is the case currently with Daytona Stadium. Each franchise will eventually have its own ownership group, with at least one prominent - but not identified - name in the Daytona Beach community looking to purchase the local team, per APL officials.
Tryouts for the APL will begin later this month in Little Rock, Arkansas and Houston, where the APL will have its corporate offices. After that is when each team will select 45 roster players and five practice squad players, likely in December, with training camp for all teams taking place in January in the Daytona Beach area.
The game rules for the new league will be a cross between current NFL and college football rules, per league officials. What those are isn't clear at this point, but the APL says it will resemble more of the old-style NFL, with less time between plays, less time spent on replays and giving coaches the ability to "text" plays to their players using special wrist devices.
The league will be formed into two five-team divisions - one called Freedom, the other Liberty - and broadcasts will be available with a paid subscription to the Awesome Cloud Network.