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Q: What about salaries?
A: Every player in the league will make a base salary of around $50,000. Every single player. But then we structure bonuses around a couple different things. Win bonuses, obviously, if your team wins, you get a bonus. There’s statistical bonuses based on preset thresholds, so if you meet a certain statistical threshold you’ll get a bonus. The big thing — and again, we’ll roll this out over the next couple months to show how this works — but the big thing is fan engagement bonuses. ... We want the fans to think they have some say, even if it’s just financial, in driving the players' decision-making and how they decide to represent themselves to the larger community. Hopefully, that’s going to create a much tighter bond between players and their fans.
Q: You did a documentary on the XFL. Your father was co-founder of the XFL with Vince McMahon. McMahon is starting another spring football league. Is there some family schism we should know about?
A: My father and Vince created the XFL together. These are family friends. The Alliance of American football is something that we’ve been working on for a long time. ... If there’s one thing I learned in making the film it was that you have to empower the fans to be the decision makers. If you look at what the Memphis team did in 2001 in terms of ticket sales and engagement and how much the market embraced the experience, you recognize that there was something there. The flip side is, the need for high-quality football is paramount. When you look at the executives we’ve been announcing, the league executives, the team executives, the scouting executives that we’ve already started to put together, and then you look at the head coaches, the Spurriers and the Childresses and the Singletaries, what we’re doing — and we’re doing it very methodically — is showing people that our commitment to quality is the highest thing. Ultimately, marketing will be very important but it can’t start as a marketing stunt, it has to start as quality football.
Former Memphis football player Kosha Irby is announcedBuy Photo
Former Memphis football player Kosha Irby is announced at the new president of Memphis' new Alliance of American Football league team during a press conference at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal)
Q: There was more initial buzz for the XFL in Memphis than there is for this team. But then the XFL fell off a cliff.
A: New Coke made a lot of noise but I don’t think a lot of people are drinking New Coke any more. Quality lasts forever. You think about the products you take home. You go to the farm, you’re driving a John Deere. ... I’m well-funded, I have a great television partner, I have a five-to-seven year plan. I am going to take this really slow. And I’ve picked cities specially because of their engagement with professional sports. What you guys have done in Memphis over the last 10 years is extraordinary. You have built a fan base for three different sports leagues in a really meaningful way and it’s been a long-term commitment, and ultimately, that’s what I’m looking for in our cities. You want to be in markets that are going to embrace you for a long period of time, that are going to embrace you through the ups and downs. And I’m a big believer that Memphis is capable and interested in doing something like that and, based on early ticket engagement, it seems like the city is very excited.