Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ tag

1991-1992 New Orleans Night

leave a comment

Arena Football League (1991-1992)

Born: March 18, 1991 – AFL expansion franchise.
Died: October 1992 – The Night cease operations.

Arena: Louisiana Superdome (13,900)

Team Colors: Midnight Blue, Sunset Orange, Moonlight White

Owners:

  • 1991: Arena Football League
  • 1992: Mike McBath, et al.

 

The New Orleans Night was a short-lived franchise during the early years of the original Arena Football League (1987-2008).  The Night formed as an owner-less expansion team in March 1991 and were operated during their first season by the building management of the Louisiana Superdome.  In July 1991, Orlando-area businessman and former NFL defensive end put together a group to buy the Night for $500,000.  McBath already was a part owner of the league’s very popular Orlando Predators franchise, but he was unable to replicate that success in the Big Easy and the Night folded after a winless 1992 campaign.

The Night were 4-6 in the first season in 1991 under former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Eddie Khayat.  The team’s most notable player was former Mississippi Valley State quarterback Willie Totten.  Totten was Jerry Rice’s college quarterback and shattered numerous Division 1-AA passing records in tandem with the legendary receiver.  Totten split time at quarterback with former LSU signal caller Mickey Guidry in 1991.

After Mike McBath bought the team, former Tulane Head Coach Vince Gibson replaced Eddie Khayat for the 1992 season.  The Night went 0-10 under Gibson, with Mickey Guidry taking most of the snaps at quarterback.  The Night’s final appearance was a 62-8 humiliation on the road against McBath’s other team, the Orlando Predators, on July 31, 1992.  McBath and his partners handed the keys to the franchise back to the league office in October 1992 and the Night was quietly euthanized when no other buys came forward.

Even among Arena Football diehards, the New Orleans Night are on obscure and forgotten franchise.  To the extent they are remembered at all, it is usually for sporting garish Zubaz stripes on their uniforms as part of a 1991 promotional campaign with the flash-in-the-pan apparel manufacturer.

The Night cheerleading squad was known as “The Rhythm of the Night”.

Arena Football returned to New Orleans in 2004 with the arrival of the New Orleans Voodoo, owned by Saints owner Tom Benson.

 

==YouTube==

The Night host the Dallas Texans at the Superdome. July 5, 1991.

 

 

==Night Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
1991 6/22/1991 vs. Denver Dynamite  L 54-44 Program
1991 7/5/1991 vs. Dallas Texans W 39-37 Program Video
1991 7/19/1991 @ Orlando Predators L 44-29 Program
1992 6/20/1992 @ Arizona Rattlers L 23-15 Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Night Head Coach Vince Gibson passed away on January 10, 2012 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  Gibson was 78.

 

==Links==

Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs

New Orleans Night All-Time Results & Statistics on ArenaFan.com

###

 

 

Written by andycrossley

November 2nd, 2013 at 2:04 pm

1984 New Orleans Breakers

leave a comment

New Orleans BreakersUnited States Football League (1984)

Born: October 18, 1983 – The Boston Breakers relocate to New Orleans.
Died: November 13, 1984 – The Breakers relocate to Portland, OR.

Stadium: The Louisiana Superdome (69,658)

Team Colors:

Owner: Joseph Canizaro

 

The Breakers of the United States Football League started out at Boston University’s Nickerson Field in the spring of 1983.  Nickerson seated only 20,000 fans and was a destination of last resort after the Breakers’ first choice – Harvard Stadium – didn’t pan out.  Given the stadium situation in Boston, the franchise had no hope of sustainability there and original owner George Matthews decided to sell.

New Orleans real estate mogul Joseph Canizaro purchased the Boston Breakers in October 1983 for a reported $8 million and moved the team to the Louisiana Superdome.  The Breakers move was Joe Canizaro’s second attempt to bring a pro franchise to the Superdome.  In 1975, he led an unsuccessful effort to acquire and relocate Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles to the building.

Marcus DupreeCanizaro inherited the roster and coaching staff of the 1983 Boston Breakers, who had been the surprise of the USFL, going 11-7 and just missing the playoffs with an anonymous roster led by a 35-year old quarterback (Johnnie Walton) with awkward mechanics who hadn’t played in four years.

To this line-up, the 1984 New Orleans Breakers added three talented skill position players.  NFL jumper Dan Ross joined at tight end from the Cincinnati Bengals.  Ross, a Massachusetts native, planned to come home to play in Boston but found himself in the Big Easy instead.  The Breakers also added two big and talented rookie running backs in Buford Jordan out of Louisiana’s McNeese State and the spectacularly talented 19-year old college dropout Marcus Dupree.  Dupree had the big name and the five-year $6 million contract, but it was Jordan who turned out to be the star, rushing for 1,276 yards and 8 touchdowns.

The Breakers started the 1984 season 5-0 and were 6-1 through seven weeks.  But the team melted down in the second half, losing nine of its final eleven games to finish 8-10 and out of the playoffs.

When it came to the USFL, owner Joe Canizaro’s luck and timing were uncharacteristically lousy.  Although the Breakers drew reasonably well in the Big Easy (30,556 per game in 1984), Canizaro lost a reported $5 million on the team during the 1984 season.  Worse yet, in August 1984, less than a year after Canizaro bought the Breakers, a renegade faction of USFL owners led by Donald Trump of the New Jersey Generals pushed through a plan to move to a fall season in 1986.  The move immediately imperiled the ten USFL franchises that shared markets and stadia with NFL teams.  A wave of mergers, shutdowns and relocations followed as the USFL prepared for its final spring season in 1985.  Canizaro could never hope to compete with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints head-to-head in the fall, so he packed the Breakers off to Portland, Oregon.

 

==1984 New Orleans Breakers Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
2/26/1984 @ San Antonio Gunslingers W 13-10
3/4/1984 @ Oakland Invaders W 13-0 Program
3/11/1984 vs. Memphis Showboats W 37-14 Program
3/18/1984 @ Jacksonville Bulls W 38-9
3/25/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz W 41-35 (OT) Video
4/2/1984 @ Birmingham Stallions L 31-17
4/8/1984 vs. Pittsburgh Maulers W 27-24 Program
4/16/1984 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits L 35-13
4/22/1984 vs. Denver Gold W 20-18 Program
4/27/1984 @ Philadelphia Stars L 35-0
5/7/1984 vs. Arizona Wranglers L 28-13
5/13/1984 vs. Michigan Panthers W 10-3 Program
5/20/1984 @ Tampa Bay Bandits L 31-20
5/27/1984 vs. Birmingham Stallions L 31-14
6/1/1984 @ Memphis Showboats L 20-17
6/10/1984 @ New Jersey Generals L 31-21 Program
6/15/1984 vs. Jacksonville Bulls L 20-17 (OT)
6/24/1984 @ Washington Federals L 20-17 Program

 

==Key Players==

 

==YouTube==

1984 New Orleans Breakers profile with Jim Lampley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwMXAYupKvM

 

New Orleans Breakers vs. Chicago Blitz at the Superdome. March 25 1984.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS9JWBl9DME

 

==In Memoriam==

Former New Orleans Breakers offensive lineman Broderick Thompson died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident on February 4, 2002.  He was 41 years old.

Breakers tight end Dan Ross died of a heart attack following a jog on May 16, 2006 in Atkinson, New Hampshire.  He was 49.

Offensive tackle Louis Bullard, who played for the Breakers in Boston, New Orleans and Portland, passed away from cancer on April 18, 2010 at age 53.  Bullard was one of the Breakers’ player representatives and the spokesperson for dozens of Portland Breakers in their long fight to collect unpaid wages from team owner Joe Canizaro.

 

==Downloads==

1984 New Orleans Breakers USFL Draft Selections 

 

==Links==

1984 New Orleans Breakers statistics on JustSportsStats.com

USFL Media Guides

USFL Game Programs

###

Written by andycrossley

June 22nd, 2013 at 1:53 pm

2004-2008 New Orleans Voodoo

leave a comment

new orleans voodoo arena footballArena Football League (2004-2008)

Born: May 13, 2003 – AFL expansion franchise.
Died: October 13, 2008 – The Voodoo cease operations.

Arena: New Orleans Arena (16,021)

Team Colors: Purple, Black & Red

Owner: Tom Benson

 

The (original) New Orleans Voodoo were a tremendously popular Arena Football League team that played in the city from 2004-2005 and 2007-2008.  The team shut down for the 2006 season in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and saw most of its roster dispersed to the AFL’s Kansas City Brigade expansion team.  But the Voodoo returned to New Orleans Arena in 2007 and were more popular than ever, setting an all-time league record with the reported sale of over 13,000 season tickets.

An earlier Arena Football League entry in the city – the New Orleans Night (1991-1992) – came and went quietly after two seasons in the Superdome.  But the AFL was a small-time curiosity in the early 90’s.  By the turn of the century, the league started to attract investment from NFL owners, including Arthur Blank (Georgia), Pat Bowlen (Colorado) and Jerry Jones (Dallas).  The great strength of the Voodoo was their backing from New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc.  The LeBlanc’s put the power of the Saints brand, infrastructure and sales machine behind the Voodoo and turned New Orleans into a showcase city for the league.

new orleans voodoo arena footballDuring their four season’s of play, the Voodoo were never a factor in competition for the Arena Bowl championship.  They made the playoffs in only one season, their debut in 2004.  The team was prone – one might even say cursed? (sorry) – by late season collapses after strong starts.  But the value proposition of the Voodoo was never based on winning.  It derived from the organization’s outstanding game day production, which included the Voodoo Dolls dancing team, mascots Bones and Mojo, and an exploding cemetery set loaded with indoor pyrotechnics for pre-game player intros.  The league chose New Orleans Arena – the “Graveyard” to Voodoo fans – as the neutral site host for its signature annual event, the Arena Bowl, in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008.  The 2008 Arena Bowl would prove to be the last event ever staged by the original Arena Football League.

The Voodoo continued to be one of Arena Football’s best box office draws during their fourth season in 2008.  Announced average attendance of 14,321 ranked fifth in the 17-team league.  Although the league showed the outward trappings of success – big attendance figures, a broadcast television contract and major brands attached as national sponsors – the league was reportedly $24 million in debt and had relied for years on a speculative bubble in expansion fees which was now starting to deflate.  Most teams lost money and the NFL owners, in particular, were growing restive and pushing for big changes in the business model.  In the summer of 2008, reports emerged that the league was in negotiations with Los Angeles private equity firm Platinum Equity for a rumored $100  million buyout that would convert the AFL to a single-entity business model.  What wasn’t clear at first was that some sort of buyout was necessary to keep the league going.

On October 13, 2008, Tom Benson folded the Voodoo franchise.  The bombshell announcement stunned Arena Football fans in New Orleans and elsewhere.  After the Voodoo’s demise, the dominoes fell quickly.  The Platinum Equity deal fell apart the following month, leaving the AFL’s remaining 16 owners the prospect of funding big losses in 2009 on their own, without any infusion of new capital.  In December 2008, 12 of the league 16 clubs voted to cancel the 2009 season, with the big NFL investors leading the charge for the exits.   In August 2009 the league entered bankruptcy and effectively folded for good.

A group of the less wealthy (non-NFL) club owners and owners from the league Arena Football 2  minor league system bought the banktupt league’s name and intellectual property at auction in late 2009 and re-formed the league in 2010.  A minor league club from Bossier-Shreveport, Louisiana relocated to New Orleans Arena in 2011 and took back the Voodoo brand identity.  The Bensons and the Saints have no involvement in this new, much lower-budgeted version of the Voodoo and fan interest has no approach anything close to the original team.

 

==New Orleans Voodoo Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other
2005 2/13/2005 vs. San Jose Sabercats W 62-61 Program
2005 3/26/2005 vs. Georgia Force L 43-40 Program
2005 4/16/2005 vs. Columbus Destroyers W 64-28 Program
2005 5/8/2005 vs. Colorado Crush L 63-57 Program
2005 5/14/2005 vs. Austin Wranglers W 69-68 Program
2007 3/24/2007 vs. Los Angeles Avengers L 48-36 Program
2007 3/31/2007 vs. Orlando Predators W 48-45 Program
2007 4/13/2007 vs. San Jose Sabercats W 67-54 Program
2007 4/27/2007 vs. Georgia Force L 72-57 Program
2007 5/21/2007 @ Philadelphia Soul L 78-34 Program

 

==YouTube==

The Voodoo host the Orlando Predators at Orlando Arena.  March 9, 2008

 

==Links==

Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs

New Orleans Voodoo History at ArenaFan.net

###

Written by andycrossley

March 1st, 2013 at 9:22 pm

1979-1981 New Orleans Pride

leave a comment

Women’s Professional Basketball League (1979-1981)

Born: May 30, 1979 – WPBL expansion franchise.
Died: 1981 – The WPBL ceases operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Red, White & Blue

OwnersClaudette Simpson & John Simpson

 

In the spring of 1979, the city of New Orleans lost their NBA franchise to Salt Lake City, Utah when the Jazz pulled up stakes after five seasons.  One man, a 32-year old stockbroker and basketball junkie named Steve Brown took the news particularly hard.  Five years earlier, Brown entered a Name the Team contest when the NBA expanded to New Orleans and he submitted the winning suggestion of “Jazz”.

Facing a winter without basketball, Brown approached one of his clients, a gynecologist named John Simpson, and proposed purchasing an expansion franchise for New Orleans in the two-year old Women’s Professional Basketball League (WPBL).  Dr. Simpson initially declined, but  his wife & medical office manager Claudette Simpson liked the idea and persuaded her husband to become the major investor, with Brown as the team’s minority partner/General Manager.  The WPBL awarded the New Orleans Pride expansion franchise to Brown and the Simpsons on May 30th, 1979.

Two weeks later, Brown lured former Jazz Head Coach Butch Van Breda Kolff away from the A.D./Head Basketball Coach position at the University of New Orleans to coach the Pride.  It would be the first experience coaching women for the 58-year old, who also served terms as Head Coach of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons.  He joined Larry Costello of the Milwaukee Does as one of two former NBA head men to chase a paycheck in the fledgling WPBL.

The Pride made their home debut at the Louisiana Superdome on November 15, 1979 in front of a crowd of 8,452 – at the time, the largest crowd  ever assembled for professional women’s hoops in the United States.   The crowd was drawn partly by the novelty of women’s basketball and partly by an opening night show that featured the New Orleans Symphony, the San Diego Chicken and a National Anthem performance by Doug “The Ragin’ Cajun” Kershaw.

The Pride finished 2nd in the WPBL’s Eastern Division in the winter of 1979-80, good for second place and a spot in the league playoffs.  The Minnesota Fillies eliminated the Pride in the WPBL quarterfinals in March 1980.

Brown left the team after the first season and Claudette Simpson took over as the team’s General Manager and the face of the franchise.  According to Karra Porter’s definitive chronicle of the WPBL, Mad Seasons, Simpson and the team came in for some questioning from The New Orleans Times-Picayune during the 1980-81 season over the racial composition of the team.  Only four of the Pride’s twelve players were African-American when the 1980-81 season began (see photos below) and two of those players, Betty Booker and Beverly Crusoe were traded away early in the season.  (Brown, Van Breda Kolff and former Pride player Sybil Blalock all told Porter they thought that the paper’s implications were off base.)  According to Porter, racial composition of rosters was just one way that some league officials and investors of the WPBL wrung their hands over the public image of their teams.  Some teams pushed for skimpier uniforms and were perceived to take physical appearance and “femininity” into consideration alongside basketball talent in player personnel matters.   The Pride’s Sybil Blalock recalled to Porter that Pride players were encouraged – but not required – by ownership to apply makeup before games.

For their two seasons of existence, the Pride would split their home games between the cavernous Superdome and the more appropriately scaled field house at the University of New Orleans.  The big crowd of curiosity seekers for opening night in November 1979 turned out to be a fluke.  A February 1981 article by the Associated Press estimated that the Pride averaged around 1,100 fans per game at the two venues during their second and final season.

Other WPBL were in the same situation and the league went silent following its third and final championship series, played in April 1981.  The league still existed on paper, but no schedule was released for the 1981-82 season.  The last anyone heard from the Pride was in late October 1981, when Claudette Simpson told The Associated Press that the league couldn’t return without the largesse of a new major sponsor and that she and her husband were hoping to unload their franchise to new investors.  The league never formally announced a shutdown, but by early 1982, it was clear the WPBL was done for good.

##

Pride founder/owner Dr. John Simpson died in a car wreck in 1985.

Butch Van Breda Kolff passed away in 2007 at the age of 84.  New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey published a wonderful obituary, calling Van Breda Kolff “the best college basketball coach I ever saw”.

The women of the 1980-81 New Orleans Pride…

==Downloads==

New Orleans Pride Sources

 

==Links==

Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

###