Today, I wanted to take a moment to tip my hat to a couple of guys who are trying something new. Craig Redd and Jose Jefferson are a lot like Michael Quartey, someone else I’ve written about in this space. But this year, they’re trying a new spin on an old trick, and I think it’s gonna work for them.
For years, people have been trying without success to run an all-star game without losing their shirts. The economics of these games are beyond the scope of today’s post, but the bottom line is that most are set up with a week of practices leading to a game. The game is really not of interest to scouts, but it’s a way for a game’s organizers to recoup their investment. The bad news is that usually, a game draws very few fans, and the cost of stadium rental, promotion and, most of all, broadcasting the game run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since Craig and Jose know this, they’ve scrapped the idea of an all-star game altogether, and they’ll focus solely on the practices.
I should mention that this idea didn’t come without a lot of soul-searching. First of all, Craig and Jose ran the College Gridiron Showcase last year just outside Dallas, and it held to a traditional format with an end-of-week game. Though it was very well-received by teams and had 10 players drafted (a great total for a first-year game), it was a money loser, so they’ve seen first-hand that there’s a need to try something new. Second, before they launched down this path, they ran the idea by everyone they knew in football, and it became clear that scouts had no quibble with workouts but no game.
Still, there are risks involved. Because there’s no game and no chance to earn money with gate receipts, they’re asking players to get to the game on their own. This eliminates another great cost of running a game: transportation. Flying a hundred players into Dallas might cost $50,000 or more, so that’s one less debt the game will accumulate. Craig and Jose are also taking advantage of their field rental (the showcase will be held at Pennington Field in Bedford, Texas, just outside Dallas) to run workouts with two other groups — draft-eligible players who will pay a small fee to be part of the festivities, and street free agents who still feel they have NFL ability. Scouts from the NFL as well as the CFL, AFL, IFL and start-up MLFB will be on hand.
Craig and Jose know there are no guarantees, but if they can pull this off, they’ve figured out a way to give young men new opportunities without falling deeply into the red. That’s both rewarding and smart. If you’re looking to get into the football business, I encourage you to do the same outside-the-box thinking.