8 reasons to be very carefully positive about the XFL’s opportunities to be an effective spring football league. Though it will take far more than 4 weeks into the league’s inaugural 2020 season to with confidence assess the league’s long-term future (which I’m still bullish on for the afore-mentioned eight reasons), the initial proof from the St. Louis and Seattle markets provide essential insights into what markets would be the very best prospects for future factor to consider ought to the league either expand or change underperforming markets in the coming years.
Let’s begin with St. Louis:
- Their inaugural house game on Sunday, February 23rd drew 29,554 fans, the largest crowd from the 14 video games played so far throughout the league since this publishing; Their second house video game on Saturday, February 29th drew 27,527 fans, the third biggest crowd of the young season; Bear in mind that St. Louis is the 21st biggest MSA with a population of 2.81 million, has 2 expert sports teams presently in MLB’s Cardinals and NHL’s Blues (though an MLS franchise arrives in 2022), has two times been house to NFL groups(Cardinals, Rams), and is only 1 of 3 markets inside the
country’s biggest 21 MSAs (in addition to Riverside CA and San
- Diego) who do not have an NFL team. Then there is Seattle: 22,060 showed up at CenturyLink Field for the second home video game in Week 3 of the XFL season; Though below the 29,172 they drew in their inaugural house video game in Week 2, their 2-game attendance figures are the second-best in the eight-team league … trailing only St. Louis. Note that Seattle is the 15th largest MSA with a population of 3.57 million, with expert sports groups in 4 leagues (WNBA’s Storm, MLS’s Sounders, MLB’s Mariners, NFL’s Seahawks … and will eventually have 5 with the addition of an NHL expansion team), and is home to an NFL group with incredibly faithful fans.
In terms of the other markets who have already hosted 2 home games:
Though having markets in New york city and Los Angeles are the staple of all North American sports leagues (each of the 5 major sports leagues have at least 2 franchises in each of those markets), it will be interesting to see how their XFL franchises will advance. A fight each of these markets deal with is one of considerable competition in those markets for the customers’ entertainment dollars and activities, and the other is one of convenience to gain access to (particularly when it comes to the Los Angeles team, which plays in Carson). While I’m a huge fan of the Carson place (having attended various L.A. Galaxy matches there over the last years), I fear the facility’s location paired with a crowded Los Angeles sports/entertainment marketplace will make this market among the most challenging to prosper.
Which raises the problem of “what if”, as in (a) what if the XFL eventually chooses to change a poor carrying out market, or (b) what if the XFL ultimately chooses to expand?
Proof from the now-defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF) league might recommend that San Antonio, Orlando, and San Diego would be the very best three markets to consider for ultimate addition. First, note how similar each market is to St. Louis in terms of population and reasonably few rivals for sports:
– San Antonio (24th largest MSA with population of 2.47 million) has 1 professional sports group (NBA’s Spurs), but is located in Texas where the demand for football seems insatiable;
– Orlando (23rd largest MSA with population of 2.51 million) has 2 expert sports groups (NBA’s Magic and MLS’s Orlando City FC), and is also found in a football-crazed state (Florida) and in a city home to America’s present college football darlings from the University of Central Florida;
– San Diego (17th largest MSA with population of 3.34 million) has 1 expert team (MLB’s Padres), and was formerly home to the NFL’s Chargers before they transferred to Los Angeles in 2017. Hence, it’s safe to presume they still have a hunger for professional football.
Then there are other mitigating aspects:
- Orlando is centrally situated in the heart of football nation, is becoming more wealthy as a city, attracts countless out-of-town visitors who could make the XFL a part of their experience, and would provide a fantastic rivalry with Tampa;
- San Antonio’s AAF participation numbers show the football avidity in Texas, and present the opportunity for natural rivalries with Houston and Dallas;
- And just have St. Louis fans have actually gotten here in droves to XFL video games to reveal they are a market that can support this level of professional football, the also NFL-jilted San Diego market would be just as most likely to produce a comparable profusion of assistance for an XFL group.
I do not expect the XFL will either contract or expand in their very first 2 years of presence. They wish to provide their founding markets a reasonable window and adequate sample size to demonstrate they can achieve a respectable level of success.
But if we have actually discovered anything so far, it’s that mid-sized markets with a history of football success are more apt to be fruitful markets for an upcoming venture like the XFL.
And if markets were to be included the coming years, Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego would by far be the most attractive markets to consider.Source: forbes.com