FOOTBALL LEAGUE FACES 4TH DOWN AND $90M SHORT

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The Americas Football League may be sacked before throwing a single pass.

Mike Lynn, one of the organizers of what had been known as the A League, said the proposed venture is $90 million short-or $30 million annually for three years. He said a meeting of interested parties "in the near future" will determine whether plans for a 10-team league, with games to begin in the fall of 1995, will be able to proceed.

"We don't have enough money to compete with the NFL," he said. "... If they do go ahead with things as they now stand, it will be without me. But there are those who want to continue."

Mr. Lynn, former general manager of the NFL's Minnesota Vi-kings, has been discussing the league with CBS and major corporations since December. Under the original concept, a corporation would have paid just $10 million for two years to own a team. The concept had some appeal for CBS, since National Football Conference games move to Fox this fall.

However, no marketers came forward and to date only six unidentified individuals have committed to paying $4 million each over three years for a team sponsorship and media buys within game telecasts.

Mr. Lynn said corporations wanted to take a more traditional role in sponsoring teams and advertising on the broadcasts.

An agency executive familiar with the situation said the organizing effort was "hanging by a thread and dying on the vine."

The executive said Anheuser-Busch Cos., Gillette Co., Nike, Pepsi-Cola Co. and Walt Disney Co. entertained offers but all said no. Only Federal Express Corp. was interested, he said. Gillette didn't return calls for comment; Nike and Pepsi had no comment.

The marketers were dissuaded because the NFL is so powerful and because CBS appeared to be backing away, the executive said.

"We came up $30 million short [each year] over a three-year period, which was my [time] commitment to CBS," Mr. Lynn said. "... What we are working on now is to see if there is revenue available from other sources."

One insider told Advertising Age organizers set their sights too high.

"There are no risks to CBS," the executive said. "CBS did not actually offer us money. What they told us was if we brought in all the sponsors and owners and had the league together and then put something on the table, they would commit to $30 million."

David Kenin, president of CBS Sports, wouldn't confirm the amount pledged but agreed it had informally committed to partially fund the league. He said CBS hasn't wavered from its original position that the network would listen once the league had everything in place.

Separately, prospective owners from nine cities will meet July 29 in St. Louis to discuss another proposed football league: the North American Football League.

Jeff Jensen contributed to this story.

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