Gambling, high scores and rapid expansion: Inside Ted Leonsis’ plan to resurrect arena football

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United — for a good price, too, he added — but passed. He wants an event with constant action. They are games, he said, that appeal to younger audiences. Viewers can catch a glimpse of a contest and still see scoring or highlight-worthy plays. And arena football, he said, has the same quality. The clock runs continuously. Huddles take a fraction of the time as they do in the NFL. Quarterbacks have less time in the pocket to throw the ball.

The field is so small, only 50 yards, that teams can and regularly do score from anywhere on any given play. Hands down, you would say the Arena Football League. And by taking control of the league now, Leonsis wants to shape its future content, creating a multiscreen experience similar to how NFL fans watch games on TV while checking fantasy football scores on their phones.

The arena league can fashion the data that powers fantasy football into more gaming options, including gambling. He envisions games where fans can gamble — on whether the next play will be a run or pass, whether a quarterback completes his next attempt, the score at the end of quarters — and use reams of data generated from past regular season games to make informed decisions.

They see the power of sports. Leonsis knows the power of sports, too. He owns the team that drew 18, people to Capital One Arena to watch a Stanley Cup finals game on a screen, that drew tens of thousands more on the streets outside, that drew hundreds of thousands to watch a parade on a skillet called Constitution Avenue.

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