PHOENIX, Ariz. -- After five months of negotiations, Phoenix heart surgeon Dr. Ted Diethrich Friday announced the purchase of the Arizona Wranglers and the sale of the Chicago Blitz in a deal that includes a swap of players on the U.S. Football League teams.
The Blitz' head coach, George AlleD, and his entire staff will move to the Arizona franchise as will AlleD's soD, Bruce, 26, who has been the Chicago general manager.
Diethrich said the Arizona team will continue to be known as the Wranglers, ending speculation he might also bring the 'Blitz' name to Arizona. He said telephone calls and letters had convinced him the public wanted to keep the Wranglers name.
'This has been an almost impossible task,' Diethrich said in making the announcement to reporters who packed a news conference at his Arizona Heart Institute.
Diethrich bought the Arizona franchise from California businessman Jim Joseph and sold the Chicago franchise to Dr. James F. Hoffman Jr. of Milwaukee. He indicated that former NFL Coach Marv Levy would become the new coach of the Blitz.
Diethrich said there might be a small number of players remaining in the cities where they played the inaugural USFL season, but most of the players would move.
The only exceptions that he specified would remain with the Wranglers were quarterback Alan Risher and guard Jeff Kiewell. Diethrich and AlleD declined to name any Chicago players that would stay with the Blitz.
Terms of the transactions were not announced, but sources put the value of each franchise at about $7 million.
The Blitz made the playoffs last season while the Wranglers struggled to a 4-14 mark, losing their last 10 games.
Referring to the fact that a team with such a poor record is moving to the Midwest, AlleD said, 'I'm sure Chicago doesn't take this graciously.'
However, he said the 1983 Wranglers team was not as bad as its record under coach Doug Shively, who was dismissed on Sept. 19.
AlleD said he will build the Wranglers franchise more on draft picks than through free agents as he did in his NFL coaching days with the WYWORD:ton Redskins and Los Angeles Rams. He said that in the next draft the Wranglers will have two first-round picks and also extra selections in the third and fifth rounds.
AlleD was optimistic about the future of the USFL.
'This league is here to stay,' AlleD said. 'There's too many solid people in it.'
AlleD said one of his first tasks would be to improve the Wranglers' training facility at the closed East Phoenix High School and to hold a tryout camp in the Phoenix area. He said the training facilities need a weight room and improvements to the practice field.
The new Wranglers coach also joked that he was glad to be getting such schools as Arizona State and the University of Arizona in the league's territorial draft rather than the Chicago schools such as Northwestern and Northern Illinois.
And Diethrich said he was happy to have a team in his hometown, noting he had to leave Phoenix 17 times last spring to watch the Blitz play.
'I think it's just impossible for an owner trying to establish a franchise to be outside his territory,' he said.