San Antonio Commanders, Alliance of American Football built to last
When Alliance of American Football head of business operations Tom Veit and the league’s executives prepared the groundwork for their inaugural season, they reviewed past efforts at spring football.
Veit worked with the Orlando Rage of the XFL and watched as the league opened to huge fanfare and television ratings before quickly fading. Looking back at the USFL, the World League of American Football or the other failed leagues, one point was constant: “It has to be entertaining, and it has to be exciting, but it has to be real football,” Veit said. “It can’t be gimmicky. Fans want real football.”
As the league prepares to open its season with the San Antonio Commanders hosting the San Diego Fleet on Saturday in the Alamodome, the focus remains squarely on establishing a sustainable on-field product.
The league’s executives bring years of NFL experience and a handful of Super Bowl rings. The pay scale for players is modest and sustainable, aiming to complement the NFL rather than compete for its top players. The games are expected to be fast-paced, with enough offense to keep a fantasy-sports audience engaged.
A core of regionally allocated players is meant to drive interest for fans who can cheer on their hometown heroes.
Two weeks ago, the Alliance wrapped up training camp with four preseason games at the Alamodome. The event was closed to the public but open to industry insiders, including those from sports books and television networks. Within a few days, the Alliance announced an agreement to air games on TNT and NFL Network, and betting odds began emerging in Las Vegas.
“When we show people we’re for real, then they respond,” Veit said.