Just days away from the XFL officially being taken over by new ownership. Questions are surrounding the timetable for the XFL’s eventual return to the field.
The great news is that the XFL is returning. The question is, when will it be back.? The circumstances surrounding the sports world and the recent developments in college football have cast doubt on the timetable for the XFL’s next season.
The most significant challenge for the XFL’s new owners is deciding when to get the league back up and running on the field. Dany Garcia, Gerry Cardinale, RedBird Capital, and Dwayne Johnson don’t want to be caught between a rock and some really hard places. Unfortunately, it’s a position that they’ve inherited.
When it comes to the XFL’s next season, the league’s new owners have several different options moving forward. Each one presents its own set of challenges.
A source close to the XFL situation has reached out to indicate that while not impossible. The scenario of a Fall 2020 XFL season is not in the works or in the league’s original plans. To pull something like this off would be extremely challenging.
At first, second and third glance, this seems crazy. The idea has been floated out there by several outlets like Pro Football Talk. The line of thinking is that if there is no college football in the fall, the XFL could swoop in and sign major college football stars and have them play in their league. As each day passes, that scenario seems more unlikely.
As of press time, the SEC, Big 12 and ACC are moving forward in the fall. Two of the Power 5 conferences, The Big 10 and Pac 12, have bowed out. Along with other conferences like the MAC, Big East, and others.
Some media outlets feel that the XFL should use the current college football climate to their benefit by accelerating a new season to start in the fall. Houston Roughnecks Director of Player Personnel Randy Mueller is among them. In an article on his website, Mueller makes a strong case for the XFL lining up their ducks in a row for a November launch.
Keep this in mind though. After mid-October (NBA/NHL will be done) and even more-so, after the first week of November, post-election, with no college football, TV slots are there for the taking, especially for sports. Are you listening XFL?
If the newly purchased XFL, could get its ducks lined up quickly and create an 8-team bubble in 2 Texas cities, say 4 in Houston and 4 in San Antonio- where high school and college facilities will be generating spider webs from inactivity, they might just have the whole dance floor to themselves. They can jump into these TV slots created by the college conferences bailing on the fall. Play a 10-week schedule, with 2 playoff weeks, just like XFL 2.0 had planned. Even allowing draft eligible college athletes a window to get paid some money to play instead of doing nothing for 8 months and preparing for the draft (which is totally overrated). If I’m a late round pick or a free agent, I’m playing, make 70k, to increase my draft stock. The only way that happens is if they can get on film and build their resume.https://www.muellerfootball.com/post/time-to-re-evaluate
There are several different arguments against an XFL season happening in the fall. It’s not impossible but a challenging task to pull off in a short time. Under normal circumstances, as an alternate pro football league, you would never set up shop in the fall, but nothing about the current sports landscape is normal.
If the XFL went this route, they would have to work quickly and would need to find time on the weekly tv calendar where they are not running head to head with the NFL or what remains in college football. A 2020 Fall season would be a one time only deal, and it could avoid what may be waiting for them in the new year.
The XFL as it was initially intended. Launching a week after the Super Bowl. A piece of Real Estate designed to fill the void after the NFL and College Football seasons have ended.
The problem is that the XFL may not have that precious piece of real estate all to itself. The college football conferences that bowed out in the fall are contemplating playing a shortened season in the spring. Former 2001 XFL Quarterback and current Purdue Head Coach Jeff Brohm has outlined his plan for how it would work. An eight-game season starting in February and ending in April.
Any presence of college football in the spring could limit the XFL’s broadcast options and create competition for viewership.
One factor that could also impact a February launch by the XFL is the remote possibility that the NFL season could have delays due to COVID-19. The NFL has set up contingency plans on the chance that their season or Super Bowl would need to be pushed back. It’s a scenario that no one wants to see, but if it were to happen, the XFL would be launching with the NFL still in play.
One last note. The NFL season plays significantly into the XFL and all of football. Suppose the National Football League can complete their entire season without significant issues with COVID-19. It will serve as a great sign of encouragement for all football to move forward.
Late Spring/Early Summer 2021
One way to safeguard against competing with football in February is to start play in late spring. In theory, if an XFL season were to begin in April, it would bypass March Madness. The season could run from April to June. A fallback option for the league.
Starting later in 2021 would also buy the league more time to set up shop. The presumption is that the XFL would still be in a bubble setup. However, there is an outside possibility that by that time, more fans will be allowed to attend games. A scenario that would be great to see if the bubble location is in St. Louis or Houston.
One area of concern with this time frame is losing out on fringe NFL players that would typically play in the XFL before latching onto NFL rosters for minicamps and training camp. Something that could affect the quality of play.
At the end of the day, this could end up being the XFL’s only viable option. Even though, it’s the least desirable of the bunch. The concerns are plenty.
Financially, it makes no sense for the XFL to employ players, coaches, and staff/league members for over a year and a half. Waiting until 2022, would bring on the review, reset and reassess process that Dany Garcia talked about recently.
The continuity that was built up for the teams in 2020 would have to be rebuilt. Many of the great people associated with the XFL will have moved on by then. The coaching and team philosophies could be completely different.
In a sense, it would be as if the league is starting all over again, rather than capitalizing on and recapturing what the XFL had. Waiting until 2022 will be a missed opportunity.
The argument for the waiting game until 2022 is the ability to start fresh and have a fully realized football league. Complete with traditional home and away games, ticket sales, etc. One of the best aspects of XFL2020 was their two-year runway to get things right, and they did.
The new owners of the XFL took a leap of faith and are true believers of the concept. Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson, Gerry Cardinale, and RedBird Capital deserve praise for taking the plunge. Especially during these challenging times. Because of COVID-19. You could argue that there has never been a more difficult time to operate a sports league than now.
The XFL is reborn with a new lease on life in this ever-changing sports landscape. The question is, will they be starting up again soon or starting all over in a new direction.
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August 15, 2020 at 12:16 pm
The 2022 option is the earliest option and yes it will be a complete restart at a cost of $200m – $300m. It is going to be very difficult to assemble that kind of capital with uncertain television and stadium contracts, and related sponsors. For 2022 to work that capital has to be assembled by February 2021 at the latest. Moreover, they would have to be getting ticketing systems and related stadium agreements in place now. While there are many things the XFL did right, the XFL’s ticket sales strategy was a failure. Ticket sales have to commence 12 months in advance of the first game. Otherwise, the new owners will similarly experience poor attendance. Part of the problem was too many tickets were probably either given away or packaged with other agreements. Those decisions put downward pressure on ticket sales and fan desirability to attend games, which was corroborated in published numbers. Knowing that ticket sales were abysmal the XFL smartly only sold every other row where there would be TV camera angles to make the stadiums look fuller than they were.
August 15, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Thank you for checking out the article.
You bring up some valid business points. Ticket sales are a revenue stream that the league needs for its potential growth. Especially if they don’t have a tv rights deal.
The XFL had favorable business partnerships with their venues. The agreements in place were incentive based for both parties. I covered that aspect and the details in an article during the season.
Your points are strong though. The only problem is that any bubble setup would be cost-effective in terms of travel expenses but it would eliminate ticket sales. Unless some fans attend the games in that bubble.
No ticket sales is the best business argument for the XFL begin to play in 2022.
August 15, 2020 at 3:23 pm
2022 is really the only option as I see it. This coming spring will likely be full of college football and basketball, there will be no TV room for the XFL. Even a bubble event would be overshadowed if the NCAA Football starts in Feb or March. Plus they’ll need to relocate 2-3 teams, likely to San Diego, San Antonio, and NY to hopefully Red Bull stadium.
Of course if the NCAA cancels spring events too, then I’d say go for it, but I don’t think the colleges can afford not to play this spring. The Power 5 would ignore the NCAA and play because of TV money. I don’t think the Dragons vs Roughnecks is going to fair well against a Texas vs Baylor game on TV, or even get any publicity.
August 15, 2020 at 3:31 pm
I have also felt that playing in February was the wrong season to bring with. Personally, I would prefer a April to June season. During the days of the USFL this was their prime time. This gives fans a couple months to come down from the NFL season and look forward to football again. PLEASE move the season to April to June for a 12 game season.
August 15, 2020 at 3:46 pm
whatever the timetable is, I just hope I get to watch the DC Defenders
once again and their awesome beer snakes at the stadium.
August 16, 2020 at 4:59 am
What made XFL Successful, They Kept it Football, and Made Football Fans! Not that first start Novelty XFL trying to mix with Wrestling and Football together. Back then the football players was acting like Wrestlers! Please keep it Football! And Win XFL Football Fans! We want XFL Football Fans!
August 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm
I am all for getting prime talent from the NCAA. Time to play ASAP.