The uncertainty of an XFL season for 2021 or 2022 has some wondering if the league will go through with their plans of putting the league in a bubble.
ABC Action News in Tampa, Florida reported Tuesday that the NFL is surveying Raymond James Stadium in preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl. The league is expecting to have a full crowd for the Super Bowl when the game happens on February 7.
“We want to make sure Tampa, Hillsborough County and the state of Florida is very proud of hosting this Super Bowl. So we are going to do everything in our power to ensure that the impact of COVID-19 is negligible; that you don’t notice there have been modifications or changes to this great game,” said Jon Barker, NFL Vice President of Event Operations.ABC Action News
This has been an encouraging sign for the XFL as they decide on when to play and how they will play. XFL President and COO Jeffrey Pollack and his team created a plan during the bankruptcy to have a bubble concept that includes a 12-week tournament made for television event. This would be their way of still having football without fans and keeping players, coaches, and other staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why this could be an encouraging sign for the XFL is they might have the ability of playing in front of fans in 2021. Gameday revenue was a big way the XFL made money last season before the season was canceled. Being able to travel and play in front of fans is essentially what the league wants.
Playing in a bubble does have it’s pros and cons as well for the new owners. The league has its focus on other areas before addressing the upcoming season such as filling out their staff. This is important, but they may not be able to wait too long on what to do with their season.
Regardless, there are positives and negatives they will have to keep in mind when making this decision on a bubble or playing in front of a crowd and traveling.
Pros and Cons for XFL Playing in Bubble
The major pro for Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, and Gerry Cardinale playing the XFL in a bubble is saving money. They wouldn’t have to spend money on team facilities, stadium leases, gameday staff, and other costs. The XFL would do the exact same thing they did with training camp earlier this year and play in one city that has one stadium to play in.
It would be the safer choice for their players, coaches, and staff members to play in a bubble. They would be less exposed to COVID-19 and getting sick from it. We have seen how successful the NBA, MLS, and NHL have been when cutting down on travel and reduce the number of people in the stadium or arena. The less exposure to the outside world, the more negative tests they will receive.
Not having fans in the stands takes away from the experience of watching the games. Fans have seen all of the major sports use crowd noises from video games to help television viewers with the experience, but it almost takes away from it. It’s not the same to see stadiums empty without fans there.
Potential gameday revenue is lost without fans being in the stands. Fans are seeing it from NFL teams with reports coming out last month that each NFL team could lose roughly $100 million this season without fans.
The XFL made the majority of its revenue from the fans being at the games. It’s a double-edged sword with the potential of what they could make from fans in the stadium to how much the league saves staying in one bubble city.
If the league had a good television deal, that’s one way they could make up for not having game day revenue. On the flip side, a television deal that involves them not earning money or getting a revenue split could cost the XFL’s owners more money. Television companies may need to see more out of the league before committing more money to it.
The tough part for the XFL is there is still uncertainty on whether COVID-19 will be gone by February or if the worst of it is still to come. It makes it a difficult spot for the owners to gameplan the next three to six months out. The indication has been the XFL will play in 2021, but nothing has been finalized by the owners.
The NFL has done a good job of protecting its players despite traveling around the country. At the same time, leagues that have gone in a bubble have seen huge success with zero COVID-19 cases week after week.
The key part in making the 2021 XFL season work is making sure they have multiple tests a week and keeping players away from the public as much as possible. As long as the XFL has safety protocols in place, a season could work with or without a bubble.
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