The Alliance of American Football on Tuesday denied reports that it needed a last-minute $250 million investment from Tom Dundon, owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, in order to pay its players just two weeks into its inaugural season.
Aside from his massive investment, the AAF announced Tuesday that Dundon would become chairman of the league’s board of directors effective immediately. The announcement came days after the Athletic reported that the upstart league was close to missing payroll before its second weekend of action.
“Players were never in danger of not getting paid,” an AAF spokesperson told FOX Business.
Co-founded by Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, the AAF’s existing financial backers include Peter Chernin of the Chernin Group, Brian Singerman of the Founders Fund, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and the MGM Resorts casino empire. Ebersol recently told FOX Business that the league would need to spend $750 million “at minimum” in its first five years to stay afloat.
The AAF has eight teams and a 10-week regular season. All AAF players receive the same 3-year, $250,000 contract, plus incentive-based bonuses. The league said it drew more than 6 million viewers during its first weekend of games.
“Without a new, nine-figure investor, nobody is sure what would have happened,” a source with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. “You can always tell people their checks are going to be a little late, but how many are going to show up on the weekend for games when they don’t see anything hit their bank accounts on Friday?”
The former CEO of lending firm Santander Consumer USA, Dundon has owned the Hurricanes since January 2018.
“As a lifelong sports fan and entrepreneur, I’ve always valued the opportunities generated in the ecosystem of sports and entertainment,” Dundon said in a statement. “I’m impressed with The Alliance’s stunning growth in-stadium and across TV, mobile and social media in just these first few weeks.”