The 12-team, seven-country league
will be owned and operated by the National Football League, assuring the satellite organization of protection against competition.
"It's not a gimmick-like league," Schramm told the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. "We want to start slow
and conservatively and do it right. The rivalries will happen after it truely becomes an international league."
is in competition with Jacksonville and Charlotte, N.C., for two spots in the four-team East Division.
former Dallas Cowboys president now in charge of international promotion for the NFL, toured the Florida
Citrus Bowl early Thursday, met with Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick and a potential owner.
The NFL is organizing the
league to expand boundaries to Canada, Mexico and Europe. The WLAF will play from mid-March to early-July,
Schramm said, to keep from directly competing with the NFL.
Players will come from current NFL rosters, free agents
and rookies. Some players, especially second-string NFL players in need of seasoning, will play in both leagues.
NFL will decide "within 30 days" which teams will make up the WLAF, Schramm said.
New York and Montreal already are assured teams in the Eastern Division.
The Western Division is a
competition between Birmingham, Ala., Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., for two spots, while Los Angeles and Mexico City already
The European Division is a five-way battle between Milan, Italy; London; Paris; Barcelona,
Spain; and Frankfurt, West Germany for four spots.
All teams will be restricted by a salary cap and
all players will be considered property of the NFL. Before a player can join a team, he must first be hired
by the NFL and made available to all teams. Forty-man teams will be formed in a special
The NFL will be responsible for negotiating a television contract, paying player salaries, travel expenses and
game officials, Schramm said. In return, the NFL owners would own a controlling interest in the league.
would be responsible for local staffs and promotions.
Orlando and Jacksonville currently have NFL-like stadiums in
place. The Florida Citrus Bowl currently seats 52,000 and is being expanded to seat 70,000. Work on the expansion is expected
to be complete by January, more than two months ahead of the opening kickoff of the WLAF.
has the 80,000-seat Gator Bowl, while Charlotte must play in a 10,000-seat Memorial Stadium. Groups in Charlotte are trying
to land an NFL franchise, promising to build a major stadium adjacent to the 95,000-seat Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.
The NFL has interest from all three major television networks and five cable companies to broadcast a 10-game reuglar
season and three-game playoff.
Schramm said a good showing in the WLAF would impress NFL owners when
NFL expansion is addressed.
"I don't think this (WLAF) would be a deterant to having an NFL team,"
he said. "When the NFL decides to expand, you look at everything you can look at. Certainly, a very successful operation
in this league would bode well for expansion."
Orlando has jumped to the foreground of major sports consideration
in the past three years. The Naional Basketball Association's Orlando Magic will tipoff its inaugural season in October, while
Major League baseball is said to be keen on the Orlando area for expansion in the National League.
Orlando has has
three other professional football teams - the Panthers of the Continental Football League, the Florida Blazers
of the World Football League and the Orlando Renagades of the Unites States Football League. All three teams
and leagues folded under direct competition of the NFL.
--- (Don Coble writes for FLORIDA TODAY).
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