The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Orlando Apollo’s are essentially being forced to move their team practice to Georgia due to Florida’s exclusion of professional athletes receiving workers compensation insurance coverage.
Charlie Ebersol said, “We really need to make sure we take the necessary steps to take care of our players. Our responsibility is always to do what we must do to make sure our players have the best available coverage.”
Next week the team will be housed in a hotel in Jacksonville for roughly a month, during that time the team will travel 30 minutes across the border to practice at a high school in Kingsland, GA. The team is not relocating, and will continue to play out of UCF’s Spectrum Stadium.
Alliance officials respond saying this is only an issue because Florida will not cover pro athletes under its workers compensation laws. They also mentioned that other “more-established” leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, etc.) don’t have these problems as they are able to find a single insurance company to cover all the teams in their respective leagues. As a start-up with limited capitol, this is difficult for the AAF to achieve at this time. Maybe that $250 Million injection from Tom Dundon will help in this area?
Until the AAF can find a insurance provider in Florida, the team will continue to practice across the border. Georgia will cover Apollos players as long as the team spends at least 51% of its practice days in GA. According to Apollos Head Coach Steve Spurrier, they will spend 36 days practicing in Georgia and will bus back to Orlando for the one home game (March 16 vs. the Arizona Hotshots) they play during that stretch.
“We tried to call some big shots in Tallahassee to get it worked out, but I never could get through to the Insurance Commissioner (David Altmaier),” Spurrier said. “We’re not crazy about the set-up (of having to practice in Georgia), but it’s all we can do. When you’re in a new league, sometimes you just have to make adjustments.”
Overall, week three hasn’t been to friendly to the AAF, at least in the news. First we saw that they aren’t making money on their TV deals, then it was reported that Corlina Hurricanes owner, Tom Dundon was named a member of the board in return for his $250 Million bailout. From there, we heard Arizona Hotshots Coach say that all of this is a smear on behalf of the XFL (it isn’t). Now this…. Again, I want the AAF to succeed, but I still call it down the middle. The AAF better start generating some good press, or regardless of the truth of it, people will take notice.