By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Why will this pro football team succeed here when others have failed? It’s a good question, and one the Hound Dogs were prepared to answer when they met the press on Monday.
What Michael Haines and his partner, co-owner Michael Taylor, plan to do is bring “affordable” and exciting entertainment to Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi.
Ticket prices will range between $7 (top rows) and $35 (front row).
“As a father, I look for affordable things to do with my family,” Haines said. “This is cheaper than the movies.”
Haines and Taylor also own a league franchise in Fort Myers, Fla., the Florida Tarpons.
Hound Dogs head coach Martin Theus, whose background includes indoor coaching and playing experience, believes the game’s passhappy, “in-your-face” style will attract a fan base.
“How close do you get to the action in the NFL?” said the Jackson, Tenn., resident. “Right here, it’s in your face. I’m excited to be here. I jumped at the opportunity to coach here.”
Haines believes the UIFL has a business model to remain afloat financially. He said of the league’s six teams in 2011, two made a profit, one broke even, while two were “not far off.”
Part of the UIFL’s business plan includes a salary cap, a league-owned charter bus service to cut travel expenses, and league-offered lines of credit to help team owners meet expenses.
“If it’s not affordable for the owners, it will never last,” Haines said. “I was president of a league where the league made a ton of money … nobody else did. This is more level. That’s how it has to be for long-term success.”
The Tupelo-based team is one of 10 the UIFL has added for the 2012 season. The two closest to Northeast Mississippi are The Rome (Ga.) Rampage and the Tennessee Rail Runners in East Ridge, Tenn.
The first Hound Dogs signee, quarterback Bart Gloyd, was on hand for Monday’s announcement.
He was a backup QB for the Mudcats in 2007.
“I’m ready to play again,” said Gloyd, who lives and works as a sales representative in Oxford. “I think (Tupelo) will embrace a team.”
The UIFL has 16 teams, including a Southern Division that will include Tupelo; East Ridge, Tenn.; Rome, Ga.; Pikeville, Ky.; Raleigh, N.C.; and two Florida teams.