From vendors to city to local media companies, all are owed money by the AAF

By Published: May 15, 2019 5:56 PM CT

Hog Wild BBQ owner Ernie Mellor can’t say much about his arrangement with the Alliance of American Football and Memphis Express. His legal advisers warn that talking about the matter could jeopardize any chance of him recovering the money he’s lost.

But, according to documents in the AAF’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Mellor’s company is owed $116,699.

Mellor, a former contestant on Food Network’s “Chopped,” is representative of the local entities trying to recoup the cost of their services during the now-defunct AAF’s inaugural season that ended after eight games.

The league, which was dedicated to a post-Super Bowl season in cities mostly without NFL teams, folded on April 2. Two weeks later, the AAF, and parent company Legendary Field Exhibitions LLC, filed bankruptcy in San Antonio, Texas.

The filing listed $9.6 million in creditors similar to Mellor and Hog Wild, which served breakfast and lunch to the local team every day the Express was in town. The pork catering company also supplied meals for team employees and the press box.

Whether those creditors will recover any of those costs is either unclear or unlikely, depending on your perception of a league that no longer exists.

Facing $9.6 million in creditors, Legendary Field Exhibitions listed only $536,160 in cash on hand, according to bankruptcy documents. The Birmingham Iron was left with $43 in its Regions bank account before closing shop, according to documents related to the bankruptcy case.

The amount of money owed to local companies by the AAF and/or the Express is unclear. The debt owed to entities and individuals with local addresses listed in the initial Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing amounts to well over a half-million dollars. But some names detailed in the filing don’t show an address and some could be associated with corporations headquartered in other cities. So, the debts to citizens of the Bluff City could go higher.

The Liberty Bowl and Global Spectrum, the company that operates the stadium on behalf of Memphis, are listed in the filing, but the city notes invoices totaling more than what is listed in the documents obtained by The Daily Memphian.

Jonah Jordan: Memphis Express owes city nearly $150,000

Several of those listed as creditors in the bankruptcy either did not return calls seeking comment or, like Mellor, declined comment on the advice of attorneys.

Media companies with which the Memphis Express advertised in the months leading up to the season’s first game are among the businesses owed money. Flinn Broadcasting Co., which owns several local radio stations, is out $10,010, and Entercom Tennessee, home of 92.9 FM ESPN, is left with a debt of $11,656. Contemporary Media, Inc. – owner of the Memphis Flyer and Memphis Magazine – is listed in the bankruptcy filing with a total of $4,885 in bills.

A variety of print and graphics shops in the Memphis metro area are shown with unpaid expenses ranging from $500 to $11,000.

Memphis Express players stayed in hotels and Airbnb locations provided by the team. Many were left with large bills after the league folded. The Memphis Extended Stay Suites is listed in the “Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases” section of the Chapter 7 filing. That section of the document is reserved for leases or contracts that are still in effect.

The document also lists Downtown Memphis’ Holiday Inn with a bill of $47,288, and the Memphis Marriott East is owed $41,946, according to the bankruptcy documents.

Belz Enterprises owns and manages 88 Union Center, which the AAF leased for the Memphis Express offices. Belz Construction Services, which is part of Belz Enterprises, incurred $81,529 in expenses while working with the AAF. They also are listed in the unexpired leases section of the Chapter 7 documents.

Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics located on Germantown Road has a claim to $50,000 in the Chapter 7 filing. The clinic specializes in sports medicine and was the official health care provider for the Express during the team’s eight games.

Clinic officials would not comment on the financial matter.

Memphis businesses are chasing the money they are contractually owed after the Express blew through their lives. Backing an interesting concept like the AAF was easy; getting their lost money could be the hard part.


Memphis Express AAF bankruptcy
Jonah Jordan

Jonah Jordan

Jonah Jordan was born and raised in Memphis, graduated from the University of Memphis and has covered the Memphis Tigers for three years. When he's not writing, he enjoys golfing and eating barbecue.

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