AAFL may play games at Florida Field


Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 2:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 at 2:51 p.m.

There's a good chance the Orange and Blue Game will no longer be the final football game played in The Swamp every spring.

Three more games will follow starting next May if the University Athletic Association and the new All-American Football League finalize an agreement that would make Florida Field the home for the proposed Florida franchise for half of its games played within the state.

"We're having discussions with the league and they've sent a letter of agreement to us," said Chip Howard, UF's associate athletic director for operations. "We got their proposal last summer. Nothing has been finalized. We are in discussions.

"They have to put more of a package together as it relates to the league. It does interest us. They're trying to tie the league into universities. The revenue produced would be beneficial to (UAA). We're looking at it as an opportunity to create some excitement and utilize the stadium during a slow time."

According to the AAFL Website, the league is considering three sites for the Florida franchise's other three home games Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Along with UF, the league says it has signed option contracts with the University of Tennessee, Purdue and North Carolina State and has signed a contract with Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., to host its Alabama franchise. Still under consideration, according to the league, are Georgia, Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Nebraska.

The league is expected to announce its teams by the end of June. Play is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008.

As part of the proposed agreement with UF, the league would pay the University Athletic Association a game-by-game fee for use of the stadium and would be responsible for all costs running the games, Howard said. UF would staff the games.

"A substantial fee would be paid to us for each game," Howard said. "All the expenses would be taken care of by the AAFL. It's good deal and it comes at a time that is relatively quiet for our stadium."

Howard said part of the agreement likely would include that no games be played in The Swamp beyond the month of May, giving the playing surface plenty of time to recover before the start of UF's season in September.

According to the AAFL, the league will employ all players and coaches and will establish a system of allocating talent among the teams, striving to match players with their alma mater. A player must have his four-year degree to be eligible to play in the league.

Several former Florida stars, including quarterback Shane Matthews and wide receiver Travis McGriff, are expected to participate in a tryout with the Florida team at the end of this month in Orlando.

Former UF wide receiver Chris Doering said he's also interested in possibly reviving his career with the new league. Having a chance to play in The Swamp again is tempting, he said.

"I'd love to do it," Doering said. "It would be fun. I still think I can play. It would be a little different, but if it's something that's done in a first-class manner, I'd like to do it."

Howard said the league certainly appears legitimate, based on the AAFL's board of directors.

Former NCAA president Cedric Dempsey is the chancellor of the board. Other board members include former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan, former UCLA chancellor and UF president Charles Young and former UF and Tennessee coach Doug Dickey, who recently was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

"They've got some great people involved in the league," Howard said. "Discussions are moving forward."

Robbie Andreu can be reached at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com

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