World Football League (1975)
Born: March 1975 – WFL expansion franchise
Died: October 22, 1975 – WFL folds in midseason
Stadium: Alamo Stadium
Team Colors: Blue, Silver & White
Owner/Governor: Norman Bevan
The San Antonio Wings were a new franchise in the second and final season of the World Football League (1974-1975). They are sometimes referred to as a relocation of the bankrupt Florida Blazers franchise from the 1974 season, but the transaction was not quite so straightforward. As part of their entry into the league, the Wings were provided rights to some of the Blazers contracts, but were also treated as an expansion team and allowed to select two players from each of the returning franchises through an expansion draft.
The Wings made their regular season home debut on July 26th, 1975 against the Charlotte Hornets. San Antonio prevailed 27-10 before an announced crowd of 12,325 at 22,000-seat Alamo Stadium. The attendance figures were of great interest to the Wings players, who had signed 1975 standard player contracts under the unique terms of the so-called “Hemmeter Plan”.
Named for the league’s technocratic new President, Christopher Hemmeter, the Hemmeter Plan was intended as a league-wide cost control blue print. Specifically, the Plan sought to convert traditionally fixed costs – such as player salaries and stadium leases - to variable costs paid out as a percentage of revenue. Teams would sign approximately 42 players and coaches and would allocate 42% of team revenues to their compensation. Each player and coach would receive a guarantee of $500 a week against 1% of gross revenue. Players on a team that brought in $2 million in annual revenue could expect to earn about $20,000. Teams that wished to pay more - to lure an NFL veteran, for example – could do so by offering the standard percentage point plus an additional fixed amount. The overage needed to be placed in escrow before the season. Hemmeter pegged break-even at approximately 17,000 fans per game across the league.
But there was a rub. And the rub was that revenues weren’t sufficient to meet the minimum guarantees. The 1974 World Football League had a national television contract with the TVS Network, a syndicator that placed sports programming on independent UHF channels. In 1975 networks were reluctant to get involved with a league where teams had abandoned the major media markets of New York and Houston to set up shop in places like Charlotte and Shreveport, Louisiana. There was mild interest when the Chicago Winds franchise offered a $4 million package to Joe Namath in the spring of 1975, but it evaporated when Broadway Joe decided to stay in the NFL. Meanwhile, attendance around the league severely underperformed expectations. According to The Associated Press fewer than half of the league’s games produced box office takes sufficient to pay out the $500 per player minimum.
The Wings had a Jekyll & Hyde personality under Head Coach Perry Moss. The club was unbeatable at home (7-0) and hapless on the road (0-6). Notable players included Johnnie Walton, one of the first black quarterbacks to start for a pro team, and Willie Frazier, a former All-Pro in the American Football League with the Houston Oilers. In October 1975, the Wings signed Jerry Tagge, the former University of Nebraska quarterback and 1st round draft bust of the Green Bay Packers (#11 overall, 1972). Tagge arrived just in time to start the Wings final game (and throw five interceptions) in Shreveport, Louisiana on October 19, 1975.
Three days later, on October 22, 1975, the World Football League went out of business midway through its second season, due to chronic financial problems.
Pro football returned to San Antonio and Alamo Stadium nine years later with the arrival of the San Antonio Gunslingers of the United States Football League.
==1975 San Antonio Wings Results==
Former Wings owner Norman Bevan died in a car accident on February 2, 2012 at the age of 81.
1975 World Football League Standard Player Contract