In order to gain a better understanding of the events surrounding the ongoing legal battle between the AUDL and the owners of the Connecticut Constitution and the Rhode Island Rampage, we’ve organized a chronological overview of each side of the issue. This overview was compiled with information courtesy of Ultinews, Facebook, the AUDL, the Constitution website and Eisenhood.
Before July 5th
- Starting in May 2012, the AUDL made the owners and fans aware of expansions to the league. Territories included Madison, WI, Jacksonville, FL, Toronto, Ontario, New Jersey, and the now disputed New York City and Boston territories.
- The league had completed 12 weeks of play in its inaugural season.
- The Constitution finished Week 12 at 9-3, and were fighting with the Philadelphia Spinners for 1st place in the Eastern Division and the league.
July 5th – Constitution Suspend Operations
- At 2pm, the Constitution’s CEO Bryan Ricci announced that they had suspended their operations indefinitely, stating that a suit against both the Rhode Island Rampage and themselves, and the legal fees produced from the suit, was the cause. The suit was brought up over a dispute in the contract signed when the teams joined the league; more specifically a Territory License Agreement (TLA) which stated that each team owned an area that includes a 100 mile radius. The Constitution “felt that the TLA was clear and that no other team could exist in [their] area.” With the rising cost of attorney fees in both Michigan, where the league filed the suit, and in Connecticut, added to operational costs, they suspend play “until the League withdraws the suit, rescinds the territories and makes us whole for these attorney fees.”
- AUDL President Josh Moore issued a response online on the same day as the Constitution announcement. In it, he states that before establishing the league teams were envisioned in Boston, New York City, Hartford and Providence and that each of the existing owners were aware of this proposal before signing on with the league. He also states that the owners of the teams were in agreement that those regions were targeted as the league looked to add teams to get to 16 teams in the Northeast. The league found owners in both Boston and New York City, calling these cities “essential to the growth and success of the AUDL.” According to the league, it was then that the Constitution and Rampage owners objected and brought up the TLA; stating that “their purchase agreements do indicate that no new teams, beyond what we agreed to at the start, may be placed with a 100 mile radius […] as a league we mutually agreed to place teams in these markets both before and after Connecticut and Rhode Island teams came into existence.” At the threat of legal action from the owners, the league filed suit to request judgment to the enforcement of the TLA radius given the prior agreements. Lastly, the league apologized to its fans.
- On July 6th, it was discovered by UltiNews that the AUDL had changed the language in its original online statement. Now the statement read that when finding owners for the new territories that “the Connecticut owner in particular helped bring the NYC owner on board in 2011.” The league also removed the sentence describing the purchase agreement, and the TLA, from their statement.
July 6th – Rampage Announcement
- The Rampage announced via Facebook to their fans that they would not be suspending their season.
July 8th – AUDL Week 13
- The Constitution forfeited two games due to the suspension, with a now 9-5 record. This included games against both the Bluegrass Revolution and the Indianapolis Alleycats.
- Skyd Magazine received information regarding what one owner had told the players of a different AUDL franchise. The players were told that in the original contract there were 16 teams in the AUDL, including New York City, Boston, Rochester, NY, and other areas, but because some owners (including New York City and Boston) dropped out early the current contract was agreed to in understanding that the territories which dropped out would later be included. After both the Constitution and Rampage realized that the majority of their talent and fans came from New York City or Boston the legal battle came about. They were also told that it wasn’t likely that this situation would kill the league, as the expansion teams were set up with money available. The source ended with “I’m sure the AUDL will win and cover this mess up.”
July 11th – Legal Troubles and other AUDL Territories
- As reported up by Charlie Eisenhood of Eisenhood, his sources indicated that the Philadelphia Spinners were “compensated for both the New Jersey and New York expansions” – both of which fall within their TLA radius. According to Eisenhood, the agreement was made after the initial dispute was raised but before the lawsuit was filed by the AUDL in Michigan. Neither the AUDL nor Philadelphia would respond to Eisenhood for comment.
- Although the Buffalo Hunters could argue that the newly announced Toronto Rush fall within their 100 mile radius, no disagreement between the team and the league has surfaced nor has an agreement similar to the Spinners’.
July 11th – Constitution Un-Suspend Operations
- The Constitution’s CEO Bryan Ricci released another statement, announcing that the team had unsuspended operations and would play their July 14th home finale against the Detroit Mechanix. Ricci states that the AUDL had no objection, and that the team hoped to move forward with the faith that the situation would be resolved through continuing negotiations.
- On Eisenhood, Charlie Eisenhood quoted the Consitution’s Coach and General Manager John Korber as saying that conversations between the owners and the league led to the decision to resume play. “None of the owners wants to be an obstacle that leads to the missing of games; we want to make it clear that we’re trying to get games played.”
July 12th – League Suspends Home Finale
- Through Facebook, the Detroit Mechanix announced that the AUDL had informed them that the July 14th game against the Constitution had been cancelled by the league.
July 12th – Boston Franchise Purchased Amongst Conflict
- On Eisenhood, Charlie Eisenhood broke the news that the Boston franchise, which is part of the legal dispute between the Constitution and Rampage, had been purchased by Brent Steepe. Steepe is the owner of the Detroit Mechanix and the Vice President of Marketing for the AUDL. Eisenhood reports that the purchase follows disagreements between franchise owners and the league on the issue of owners being allowed to have multiple financial interests in teams of the league. That disagreement ended in a vote, according to Bryan Ricci of the Constitution, who tells Eisenhood that the vote was 4-4, including Steepe voting in favor, and the tiebreaker being the President (Josh Moore). Sources tell Eisenhood that the Boston franchise was provisionally sold to Steepe months before the vote however, but that the league’s bylaws “do not require voting members to recuse themselves in situations where they may have a conflict of interest.”
July 13th – AUDL Levies Fine on Constitution
- While not yet announced formally by the AUDL, the Constitution announced via newsletter that they had been informed by the league that they must pay $10,000 for each game they missed during their suspension of games. The payment is due not to the league, but to the two teams they were scheduled to face – the Bluegrass Revolution and the Indianapolis Alleycats. Charlie Eisenhood reports on Eisenhood that the Constitution were told that after signing promissory notes of the payment to each team that the Constitution could resume play. Bryan Ricci of the Constitution told Eisenhood that the fines were “severe and excessive” and would not be payed. Ricci also said that the league’s lawyers haven’t been heard from by the team since last Friday and that the league has until Tuesday the 17th to respond to courts about the lawsuit. The Constitution are still scheduled to hold an event during the weekend of July 14th but will not be playing their scheduled game against the Detroit Mechanix.
- It has not been announced what would happen if the Constitution fail to meet the AUDL’s demands what the game will be attributed as in the league standings. This could affect the Western Division’s playoff race that the Detroit Mechanix are in, and the July 21st regular season finale against the Buffalo Hunters.
July 14th – Constitution Hold Fan Event
- After the AUDL cancelled their final home game against the Detroit Mechanix, the Constitution held a fan event at home instead. The team claims it was never officially notified of the cancelled game, so instead held a ‘Blue vs. White’ game while having other fan promotions.
July 15th – Ultiworld Releases TLA
- Ultimate news source Ultiworld has obtained and released a copy of the TLA, which is the center of the lawsuit against the Constitution and Rampage. That can be found at their website in full along with a review by a legal analyst: http://ultiworld.com/wordpress/?p=175.
July 17th – Ultiworld Looks at Territory
- After releasing the TLA two days ago, Ultiworld discusses the issue of area and how it could relate to the legal battle. From the contract, three possible definitions are laid out by their legal analyst which can be found at their website in full: http://ultiworld.com/wordpress/?p=290