The Alliance of American Football's Orlando-based team, the Apollos, will begin practicing in Georgia at the beginning of March because the state of Florida will not cover professional athletes under its workers compensation laws, league officials told the Orlando Sentinel.
Florida's laws exclude exclude professional athletes from receiving workers compensation insurance coverage because it does not categorize players as employees, which prevents athletes from filing claims for injuries incurred while on the job.
AAF co-founder and CEO Charlie Ebersol told the Sentinel that the less than ideal situation in Florida is what has prompted the move. The state of Georgia will cover Apollos players as long as the team spends at least 51% of its practice days on Georgia soil.
"We really need to make sure we take the necessary steps to take care of our players," Ebersol said. "Our responsibility is always to do what we must do to make sure our players have the best available coverage.”
The team, which is coached by College Football Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier, will be housed in a hotel in Jacksonville, just 30 minutes from Kingsland, Ga., where they will practice at a high school. The Apollos will still play their home games in Orlando at UCF's Spectrum Stadium.
Other more established professional leagues who have teams in the state including the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, have found insurance companies that will insure their entire leagues.
Due to both the football-related and start-up nature of the AAF, insurers have been more hesitant. The AAF has been unable to find a company who will insure all eight teams in their fledgling league and none in Florida for the Apollos.
Orlando will play the Arizona Hotshots at home on March 16 in between Georgia practices.