From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

http://articles.philly.com/2013-02-01/sports/36686542_1_scranton-af... 

 

Philadelphia Soul of the AFL will be up for sale
Zach Berman, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Friday, February 1, 2013, 2:52 PM

The Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League will be put up for sale next week, majority owner Craig Spencer said Friday.

Spencer said he could sell his majority interest, or the entire team could be sold, depending on potential buyers.

The Soul was founded in 2004 by Spencer and singer Jon Bon Jovi for a franchise fee of about $15 million.

As for the value of the team now, Spencer said, "Everyone values thing differently. There's so many ways to value a team."

Arena football is an eight-on-eight game played on a field 50 yards long and 85 feet wide, meaning it fits within the dimensions of a hockey rink. The Soul plays home games at the Wells Fargo Center.

Spencer's ideal scenario would be to sell his majority interest, with the other Soul owners maintaining their stake. Spencer's "very strong recommendation" would be for the team to stay in Philadelphia.

"If I had two buyers, and one wanted to keep it in Philly, the buyer in Philly would get it 100 times out of 100," Spencer said.

The Soul's other majority owner is former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski. Bon Jovi is no longer involved with the team. The other owners listed on the team's web site are Pete Ciarrocchi, the owner of the popular sports bar Chickie's and Pete's; Cosmo DiNicola and Martin Judge. DeNicola is the former owner of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton AF2 franchise. The AF2 was a developmental league for the AFL that was disbanded in 2009.

Bon Jovi had been the face of the Soul in the early days, and the league had hoped that high-profile people such as Bon Jovi and NFL Hall of Famer John Elway, who owned the Colorado Rush, would lure fans. The pair even made TV commercials together to promote the league.

The impetus for his sale, Spencer said, is to focus his time and energy on his real estate ventures. He said he would like to keep some stake in the team and is invested in finding the right fit for the sale because he's been with the Soul since its beginning.

"It's not a team we bought. It's a team we founded," Spencer said. "It exists because we chose to make it exist."

Spencer said he is using Park Lane, a sports investment bank based in Los Angeles, to help with the sale. He expects a sale to occur sometime during the season, which begins in March.

The Soul won the Arena Football League championship in 2008 and made the Arena Bowl title game last season, losing to the Arizona Rattlers, 72-54. Their charitable efforts in Philadelphia include raising money for the homeless.

For the 2011 season, the Soul averaged about 9,000 spectators, though the crowds often appeared to fall short of the announced attendance. They claimed about 4,000 season ticket holders.

The Soul's average attendance for the seasons before 2008 was 15,842 in 2007, 15,464 in 2006, 16,121 in 2005 and 16,852 in 2004.

"My gut feeling [is] we'll see some people that want to keep the current ownership," Spencer said. "We have very successful businessmen, high-profile businessmen, who love Philadelphia and care about the team."

The Arena Football League encountered financial issues and cancelled its 2009 season because teams said they were losing an average of $1.5 million a season. The Soul also did not play in 2010 for financial reasons but returned in 2011. The league appears in better shape this season and has a television partnership with CBS Sports.

The regular season consists of 20 weeks, with 18 games and two bye weeks. It starts during the second week of March and runs through late August.

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