Need to catch up on the AUDL lawsuit saga? Start here.
After some glimmers of hope late last month, negotiations between the American Ultimate Disc League and the two franchises it sued — the Connecticut Constitution and the Rhode Island Rampage — have stalled. Neither team has had much contact with Josh Moore, the President of the AUDL, in the past few weeks.
“I haven’t heard from Josh in a little over a month,” said Emerson Kilgore, owner of the Rampage. “There’s really nothing else to say. To me it seems like he’s stalling. I’ve emailed him about three or four times and I’ve heard nothing back.”
Bryan Ricci, the owner of the Constitution, said “not much has changed” and that, after some discussions, the league said a week ago “that they are not in a position to counteroffer.”
The teams have filed a motion to dismiss the league’s lawsuit, which will likely be ruled on in mid-September. If that fails, Ricci and Kilgore will file counterclaims as the suit proceeds to a court hearing.
The ongoing legal battle is not helping the young league. The contested franchises in New York and Boston, looking to begin building their teams, are being forced to await a court decision that could be months away. Kilgore reiterated his desire to move the Rhode Island team to Boston, hoping to replace the franchise sold to Brent Steepe, current owner of the Detroit Mechanix and Vice President of Marketing for the AUDL.
The lawsuit could also delay other badly-needed changes. The organizational structure of the league — with team owners having very little power over league decision-making — has created a multitude of problems throughout the course of the season. Kilgore said the league “basically left all of the owners on an island,” making promises that were later not kept.
“The management of the league has to change substantially,” said Ricci. “It has to stop being a franchise organization. We need an independent commissioner.” Kilgore agreed, saying that the league needs “some type of board that [Moore] has to answer to.”
There are also questions about sponsorship, rule changes, and a more consistent rule enforcement policy that will need to be dealt with. Adding to the uncertainty, the new team owners joining the league for the 2013 season have not yet met the current ones.
The next few weeks could be pivotal for the league. With teams looking to start operations in the fall, a more clear understanding of what next season holds will be important. Along with discussion of the operational issues, the owners are still waiting to see the financial report from the Championship game in Detroit. The league expected thousands of fans; only around 300-350 were in attendance.
But looming over the rest of the issues is the lawsuit. It is not an isolated nuisance — it affects four teams and two of Ultimate’s biggest markets. A resolution is critical to the success of a second season of the AUDL.
The league has not responded to requests for comment.