As a committee of players representing the 18 teams selected for the proposed NexGen league continues to talk with USA Ultimate about the Triple Crown Tour this week, the sides appear to be approaching a compromise.
NexGen’s Kevin Minderhout tells Ultiworld that a pilot project — consisting of a series of four tournaments, each with four teams — may take the place of the broader vision of the NexGen league, at least for the 2013 season.
“I met with the [team] representatives and one of the ideas that was pitched in there was piloting the league,” said Minderhout. “It wasn’t specific, exactly how it would look, but I liked the idea…I’ve come up with a four event series focused on regional event play, rather than having teams fly.”
NexGen would hold four regional tournaments for sixteen of the original eighteen teams. Philadelphia’s Southpaw and Pittsburgh’s Oakland would be left out. The tournaments would be over a two-day weekend (not a three-day one including Friday, as in the original proposal) and would look much like the original proposal — streamed games, paid admission for spectators, and round robin play followed by a 1v4, 2v3 playoff format.
But these would just be standard tournaments; teams would not become owners of a new league. This would allow them, Minderhout explained, to see if the revenue stream is strong enough to support a separate league.
“One of the key things is proof of concept,” said Minderhout. “Being able to go in and do these successfully, and say, ‘Hey, alright, rather than: these are projections based off of these other things that are sort of similar that we think are good.’ Being able to say, ‘Hey, these are projections based off of: this is what actually happened when we did something like this.’”
Proving the viability of the NexGen league has become a major sticking point for teams, according to Minderhout. “I think it’s a really smart idea coming from those guys,” he said. “And I think it allows people to feel more confident in the idea.”
A team representative said, “No decisions have been made but we are proposing solutions that would benefit both sides.” A conference call is scheduled today between teams and USA Ultimate to discuss those solutions.
If the teams moved forward with the new suggested format, the tournaments would likely be these (based off of geography):
|West Regional||South Regional||East Regional||North Regional|
|Seattle Sockeye||Austin Doublewide||New York PoNY||Columbus Madcow|
|Vancouver Furious George||Boulder Johnny Bravo||Washington D.C. Truck Stop||Chicago Machine|
|Portland Rhino||Atlanta Chain Lightning||Toronto GOAT||Minneapolis SubZero|
|San Francisco Revolver||North Carolina Ring of Fire||Boston Ironside||Madison Club|
Having a trial run for the teams accomplishes a number of goals. It avoids the 2014 Worlds Club Championships bid problem, because teams will still be playing in the USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour. It also gives teams an opportunity to consider the different formats of USAU and NexGen. And, as described above, it allows for a more clear picture of the revenue opportunities available to teams if they were to start their own league.
Considering that Boulder’s Johnny Bravo will be hosting the TCT’s Elite/Select Flight Challenge at Colorado Cup and that Raleigh’s Triangle Flying Disc Association will be hosting the US Open, it appears unlikely that teams will decide to play in the full NexGen league this year.
In fact, the TFDA emailed a press release that said, “A total of 24 of the highest calibre mens, womens and mixed teams from across the country and around the globe will compete for the second-ever U.S. Open title at the WRAL Soccer Center. Among those teams will be Raleigh’s Ring of Fire, which by dint of its top-four finish at Club Nationals last year is guaranteed a spot at the U.S. Open.”
Minderhout concedes that it is looking less likely that teams will decide to leave USAU and start the NexGen league, at least this year. But he thinks there is still a chance. He is prepared to shift gears and plan for the four-tournament series.
“I’m ready to do it,” he said.”I would be happy to do that. I’m happy if we need to do the whole thing, I’m ready to do the whole thing. I’ve got both things ready.”