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Players, fans still taking the hit for collapse of UFL
Players, fans still taking the hit for collapse of UFL

The Virginia Destroyers owe a lot of people a lot of money.

The lion's share is roughly $2 million unpaid to coaches and players of the United Football League team that played four games before the league - financially tapped out - announced it was aborting the schedule in October but planned to resume play in the spring.

That appears unlikely, however, as accounts remain in arrears and the Destroyers and UFL remain mum on their fate.

But the team also has left local fans searching in vain for refunds and local vendors for payment of bills. The operator of the Virginia Beach Sportsplex is out a pair of scheduled events and rental payments.

Even Virginia Beach police officers who patrolled the Sportsplex on game nights on their own time are absent their moonlighting cash.

"My take on this thing is the ripple effect it causes in the community," said Bobb Dymarcik, owner of Event Staging Inc., which provided security, ushers, parking attendants and other services for Destroyers games.

"These are real people. I had to cover their pay. You can't tell the people that they can't get their funds."

Dymarcik covered "less than $40,000," he said, when the Destroyers failed to pay him for last fall's two home games. Dymarcik said he was coy with the figure because he remains in touch with Destroyers president John Wuehrmann, whom Dymarcik said "has been straight up" about the team's intentions to pay his company.

"He says they're working on revenue sources," Dymarcik said. "I have to take this guy John at his word that he's gonna try to make good on this."

Wuehrmann, reached late Tuesday, said in a text message that there's "not much detail to pass on - only that ownership is still very engaged in finding a solution to fix the problem. It's an unfortunate and tough situation, but (I'm) confident that it will get cleaned up. Just not sure exactly when."

Nor have the Destroyers reached out to season-ticket holders. Rose Hunter of Norfolk said she and her sister are owed about $300 for the 16 season tickets they purchased between them. Hunter said the Destroyers posted on their website a phone number to call for refund information once the season shut down. But Hunter said no information was forthcoming, and that the number is now out of service.

"Nobody knows where they went," said Hunter, who said ticket holders have taken to Facebook to commiserate. "They disappeared. Magicians."

Still, the Destroyers players and coaches have paid the highest price for their frustrations. Quarterback Chris Greisen, who lives in Wisconsin, confirmed that his teammates and coaches received only $1,000 for their month of work last fall. Players' contracts called for them to make $3,500 a week, or $28,000 for the season.

In fact, Greisen said, of the four UFL franchises, only the Sacramento team funded by Paul Pelosi - husband of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - has been fully paid.

Greisen said the Destroyers accepted a personal guarantee of payment for four games from owner Bill Mayer, to be paid by Oct. 31, but no money materialized. Same for the team's coaches, who were to be paid by Dec. 31 for collective salaries believed to be about $500,000.

"Guys are seriously hurting; they need the money that they earned," said Greisen, who said he's heard from teammates, some of whom have lost apartments and cars because of not being paid.

Greisen said he's tried to be a source of information for his teammates based on his "good personal relationship" with Mayer, but that Mayer, a New York-based equity investor, has ignored his attempts to talk with him.

Greisen said that lack of answers has motivated him to speak to media, including ESPN - Greisen said the network has a report in the works - "because I don't think people know or understand" the hardships involved.

"He's put a lot of guys and families in some bad situations," Greisen said. "It's just very disappointing this is going on."

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