Stepping into the Arena: My Journey of Owning a Championship Pro Football Team
Even for an everyday entrepreneur like myself – not brimming with wealth, but filled with passion for competition, performance, and an affinity for sports – the thrill of owning a championship pro football team is unmatched. It’s an investment that weaves a legacy like no other.
While I enjoyed my stint as a college quarterback in Europe, my time at Stanford broadened my horizons even further. This was where I met Nicoletta Spanos-Ruhl, a classmate whose family proudly owned the Los Angeles Chargers, an NFL team. At that time, I couldn’t fathom the idea of owning a professional team in the European League of Football (ELF), until fate presented me an opportunity.
Being a notable figure in Europe with strong ties to the US, I was approached by the Vienna Vikings Franchise. The team, established since the ’80s, was set to join the budding European league and they wanted me on board as an investor. After conducting my due diligence, I took the plunge and invested, gradually transitioning from a minority to a majority stakeholder.
Before making the investment, I sought Nicoletta’s expertise. The NFL, she pointed out, was keen on expanding into Europe, a fact validated by the increasing number of US NFL team games played in Europe each year. American Football, it turns out, is now the fastest-growing sport in Europe, even usurping the number two spot in Germany, albeit still lagging behind soccer.
A deep dive into a comprehensive report by Nielsen, a prestigious analytical data company, revealed something interesting. Unlike European soccer fans, American Football audiences are typically highly educated, earning the highest income among sports audiences, and they espouse libertarian views. Moreover, they prefer a less aggressive and more family-friendly live sports experience – quite different from the rowdy atmosphere at European soccer matches.
That answered my initial question: why compete with soccer in Europe? Well, we don’t. We, the European League of Football, offer a vastly more appealing alternative for European corporate giant advertisers like Porsche, Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, and more. We’re convinced that the popularity of the design and concept of US sports, particularly American Football, isn’t accidental. The proof of concept has been established; our goal now is to build on that foundation and create a sporting legacy that’s truly extraordinary.
Welcome Back, Football! The European League of Football Hits a New High
The European League of Football (ELF) is here, and its revamping American football in Europe. We’re not just back – we’re back bigger, bolder, and better than ever before!
As the professional league for American football, the ELF is a flourishing powerhouse, currently boasting 17 teams from across the continent. Whether you’re in Germany, Poland, Spain, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, or France, there’s a home team for you to cheer. And hold onto your seats, folks – the journey has just begun! We’re planning to expand our family to 24 teams by 2025.
Our league, officially founded in November 2020, charged onto the field with all guns blazing on June 19, 2021. The current roster of cities includes Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Zürich, Munich, Innsbruck, Budapest, Prague, Frankfurt, Milan, Wroclaw, and Szekesfehervar. And guess what? Madrid is all set to join the fun in 2024, and we’ve got our fingers crossed for London, too!
The ELF isn’t just about bringing back the exhilaration of American football that buzzed during the NFL Europe era. We’re taking it a step further. While NFL Europe was predominantly driven by American players, the ELF is committed to nurturing local talent. We’re imposing limits on the number of international players on rosters to emphasize developing homegrown players. Who knows, the next NFL superstar might just be your next-door neighbor!
Taking a page from the NFL’s rulebook, we’ve adopted their standards with a few ELF tweaks. We’ve introduced an innovative kickoff variation and streamlined the video review process. We’re also taking a leaf out of the NCAA’s book with their college overtime rules, which we believe is a fairer approach.
So, whether you’re an old fan or a newbie to the sport, strap in for an exciting ride with the European League of Football. We’re not just playing the game – we’re reinventing it!
Vienna Vikings: Scoring Victories Across the Field and Across Time
Say hello to the Vienna Vikings – a professional American football club located in the heart of Vienna, Austria. Established in 1983, the Vikings aren’t an ordinary team. They’re a European powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with, etching their dominance across the annals of American football in Europe.
The Vikings have quite the trophy cabinet, winning the Eurobowl title – a semi-professional championship – five times, with victories coming in quick succession from 2004 to 2007, and another win in 2013. They also proved their mettle by securing the runner-up position five times, including 2001, 2003, 2008, 2010, and 2012. When it comes to the national championship, the Vikings have set an impressive record with 15 Austrian Bowl victories to their name.
The team joined the European League of Football (ELF) in the 2022 season while continuing to participate in the Austrian Football League (AFL) with their second team. Their inclusion in the ELF did not slow them down; far from it. Winning the ELF Championship trophy in 2022, in front of an ecstatic crowd of 20,000 fans, the Vikings cemented their position as the current reigning football champions across Europe.
The Vienna Vikings aren’t just playing the game – they’re creating a legacy. And their story isn’t just about football. It’s about passion, determination, and an unwavering will to win, making them a true inspiration for the sport.
To learn how you can participate in this exciting venture, join us at FreedomFest, “the world’s largest gathering of free minds” at the Resanant Center in Memphis, July 12-15.
Visit us at Booth 600L in the FreedomFest exhibit hall to pick up your complementary ticket to our Complementary Luncheon Thursday July 13, 2023 12:00 pm – 1:10pm CDT
See you there. And who knows? Your next stop could be the owners’ box!
Robin Lumsden Owner, Vienna Vikings
Brian June, Co-Owner, Vienna Vikings