Bags Being Packed at Legion Field
Bamaslammer - Bolts Team Reporter
Berryman, Birmingham Thunderbolts GM/Vice President:
came into this with a minimum 2-year commitment
and even if we have a zero rating they would continue
to broadcast the games."
- (27 February 2001) -- Local sports call-in trash
jock Paul Fienbaum was reporting at 5PM that the league
was likely to fold by mid season. Funny thing, I was
a Legion Field today and nobody had their bags packed.
was an early supporter of the XFL and had Bolts Vice
President and General Manager, Tim Berryman, on his
show almost weekly. However Finebaum's tone turned sour
at about the time that local Media mogul Gene Hallman
was "relieved" of his consulting duties with
not suggesting that there is a connection but if you
can connect the dots wait until the next Gene Hallman
sports event like the Bruno's classic rolls around and
see how Paul begins to coo like a dove. I've also noted
the disappearance of the Bolts from the Alabama Sports
Foundation website. For those of you outside Birmingham
the ASF is a fat cat sports lobby for the state and
Birmingham specifically. All of this is just coincidence
I'm sure no one would purposefully stab a knife in the
back of someone trying to open a new business in good
I have in the past, I had another opportunity to sit
down with Tim Berryman and ask a few questions about
the Bolts organization:
is Gene Hallman no longer part of this organization?
was a business decision not to use Gene, not out of
any animosity. Frankly it was a budgetary decision.
I had in-house people capable of marketing the team
and developing media relations. I chose to run the football
team in the traditional since in that you don't out
source your marketing. I felt that keeping this internal
to the organization was what was best for us to develop
a corporate identity in the community. We have now about
18 local sponsors which I think exceeds Memphis, I don't
feel in any way that we haven't done a decent job, we
have a statewide radio network with a slew of radio
advertisers on it. We're averaging 27 thousand fans
a game. Birmingham is the number 5 market nationally
for XFL broadcasts. Our research shows that fans are
driving in excess of 25 miles to attend our games, so
we are bringing money into Jefferson County. For the
first year I'm very pleased.
web sites are reporting that the XFL is about to fold?
I can tell you is hog-wash. NBC came into this with
a minimum 2-year commitment and even if we have a zero
rating they would continue to broadcast the games. I
think every week our product is going to get better
in the way we present it. The league has done a lot
of focus group research to see what fans dislike and
liked about various styles of broadcast."
feel that the league wide low scoring is due to a lack
of good offensive lineman. What are your thoughts on
don't go along with the offensive line being the problem.
I think it's that we're getting off fewer plays than
the NFL. It ranges from 15 to 20 fewer plays per game.
Also I would say it's a first year league, guys have
not played together, There's no veteran base, In many
regards it's like we're just coming out of pre-season.
As a league were' examining it and trying to figure
out ways to generate more scoring."
you concerned about the ratings slip on NBC?
think the trend would be a concern. You can make numbers
say anything you want to. If you take the average we
are where we promised our sponsors we would be. But
for new sponsors waiting to get on board there's obviously
an issue there. At the local team level the General
Managers are more concerned frankly about getting butts
in the seats and taking care of our local business plans.
The problem we face right now is that the news about
the declining TV ratings finds its way into our local
media and then the perception becomes that the league
is not in good health. This has a direct impact on ticket
asked Tim one of the most obvious questions concerning
NBC. Why no regional broadcasts when there are broadcasts
crews at the Number two game on Saturday nights?
had no comment on this subject. This remains the single
strangest and most unanswered question in the XFL. Tim
did say that with Birmingham being such a hot market
for XFL football it stands to reason that the Bolts
would get high ratings for the local NBC affiliates
around Alabama. But for reasons as yet unknown this
is not going to happen.
also ruined my Saturday again by informing me that the
Birmingham game had been bumped again for the LA/NY
game. Not that the NY/LA game is a bad matchup, You
have to love those NBC guys with all their innovative
ideas. A real bunch of risk takers there!
this leaves us again with radio jocks Rick and Bubba.
I listened last week to the Orlando game and did not
find it as distasteful as has been reported. Certainly
Rick needs to work on some voice inflection and his
constant use of the word "uuhh" needs to stop.
He can also go to the well too often with some of his
collision descriptions. Overall I got a clear impression
of the game. I like their salty attitude. Some examples:
"We would announce the Orlando starting lineup
but, who cares". And after the Rage started treating
the Bolts like the new guy at Attica, Rick announced,
"Hey folks, It's 30 to 6, and it aint that close!"
Their game knowledge was good, even spotting an illegal
formation before the ref did. Overall I'd give them
a C+. They need work but certainly not as bad as the
critics would have you believe.
the Bolts at mid season are exactly where
they need to be. Most financial goals are
within their grasp. Now if the local "Day
Golfers" (You know who you are) will
stop throwing knives at them perhaps we
can build something special in Birmingham.