It’s a bad day to be a Hartford Colonials fan.
Connecticut’s UFL football team has officially closed up shop. Let’s be honest: It’s not exactly the Whalers leaving town. But it certainly affects the rest of the league — the first major competitor to the NFL in years.
Hartford’s departure means the UFL will enter its 2011 season on Sept. 15 with just four teams: the Las Vegas Locos, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions and Virginia Destroyers. Colonials players will be sent around the league in a dispersal draft; coach Jerry Glanville will stay with the UFL as a consultant.
Remaining teams will play six games, instead of a planned eight, this year.
The league tried to put a happy face on the news.
“We are moving forward as projected having revised our strategy and realigned the makeup of the United Football League,” commissioner Michael Huyghue.
Still, losing 20 percent of its teams in one swoop can’t be good news for a league that’s seen pretty crazy franchise turnover since its 2009 founding. Back then, franchises were located in California, Florida, New York and Las Vegas. Only the Locos survive: Hartford took over for New York last year; Omaha was a 2010 expansion team.
The league has reportedly lost more than $100 million since 2009. The UFL owns all or part of each franchise.
“We’re shrinking down a little bit, getting our house in order and making sure we have enough ammunition to get through the marathon,” Huyghue said.
But is there enough ammo out there to make hay against the juggernaut NFL? We’ll have to wait and see.