Will Birmingham play in the National Spring Football League?

March 13, 1990
A new professional outdoor football league is announced in New York. The National Spring Football League names Birmingham as one of the 30 cities under consideration for a franchise.

Bill Byrne, the league's chief executive officer, made the announcement. Byrne is very familiar with upstart football leagues, as he was a franchise owner in both the World Football League and the United States Football League.

The league will choose between eight and 12 cities for inaugural franchises. Key television markets of Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles will be the league's first focus. Next will be cities that previously had teams in the USFL or the National Football League, such as Birmingham, Baltimore, Memphis, Portland, Jacksonville, Orlando, and St. Louis. Those cities are prime contenders because they already have the facilities to host professional teams. Consideration would also be given to college football hotbeds such as Lincoln, Columbus, Iowa, Arkansas, South Bend, and the Carolinas. Beyond all those cities, the league is also considering Albuquerque, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Miami, New Haven, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Tucson.

The league hopes to begin play in the spring of 1991. Current plans are for each team to play 16 games, evenly split between home and away, in March, April, May, and June. Future seasons would increase the number of games to 20.

The cost of a franchise is $125,000 but that also includes territorial rights. Also, an additional $150,000 is required for league expenses. Each franchise must also have $300,000 in a 'rainy day expense fund'.

  NSFL commissioner Don Maynard (left) with
former University of Alabama legend Joe Namath
when both were with the New York Jets
The league will enforce a yearly operational cap of $3.5 million, of which only $1.5 million could be used for salaries.

Only one franchise has fully committed, the Tampa Bay Bandits. Former USFL owner Donald Trump is considering the New Jersey franchise. "He'll be involved. Now we have to see if he can live within the cap," Byrne said.

Former New York Jets great and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Don Maynard has been named league commissioner. "My main concern is that we stay a spring league. It's a shame the USFL wanted to move to the fall."

Rumor has it that Kenny Stabler is wanting to organize the team located in Alabama, most likely in Mobile.

April 18, 1990
At a press conference held in mayor Arrington's office, Tex Schramm announces that Birmingham is the second American city to receive a franchise in the World League of American Football.

While no official statement was made by the NSFL, this action has likely ended their interest in Birmingham.

June 4, 1990
At a two-day Las Vegas weekend meeting for potential owners, the league announces the first six inaugural franchises; Charlotte, Chicago, Ohio, Portland, Southern California, and Tampa Bay. Representatives from Australia and New Zealand were also in attendance, as they are expected to be a part of the league's future plans.

"I am very excited with the outcome of these meetings. This league will give a lot of opportunities to players, coaches, and front office people who otherwise may not get a chance. I believe our concept will work," Maynard said.

The remaining franchise locations will be announced after the June 18-19 league meeting in Chicago.

June 12, 1990
Charles Yancy, owner of the SNFL's Tampa Bay Bandits, is threatening to pull his club out and set up his own rival league. Yancy believes Byrne has violated his exclusive Florida territorial rights by speaking with possible owners of a Miami franchise. Byrne says Yancy has only paid $25,000 of the required $125,000 franchise fee, which gives him every right to continue negotiations with others.

Yancy says he may continue to help the NSFL form, but his Bandits would not be a member.

Byrne is already counting the Bandits out but doesn't understand Yancy's motives. "My league is in good shape. At this point, Tampa Bay under Charles Yancy doesn't figure. I don't know what they're trying to prove. He's starting litigation before he's even opened an office. We're not dead, but there's no doubt he threw a wrench into what we were trying to do. When you threaten to serve papers on people and say 'Bill Byrne's a thief' and that sort of thing, well, what's he trying to accomplish?"

June 15, 1990
Maynard says that one of the league's innovations is there won't be a player draft. Players will say and play in their home region - no shipping a player from West Texas to Portland to play for three months.

Currently, plans are for each team to play 14 games and the league will enforce a $30,000 salary cap for players.

"Television is a possibility, we're talking to three or four organizations about televising our games. But if a team can average 30,000 fans - at a price the average guy can afford - it (a franchise) should be able to break even," Maynard said.

June 22, 1990
Yancy's rival league, the North American Spring Football League, held a two-day meeting in Charlotte.

Among other items, the most notable was their "consolidation" of the National Spring Football League.

Don Maynard will also become commissioner of the NASFL.

Despite "consolidating" a rival league, the North American Spring Football League never played a single game, most likely due to the NFL-backed World League of American Football starting up at the same time.
Contact Gene Crowley
Last update: December 09, 2020