There are so many new and exciting developments around the XFL. The sale of the league, the possibility of CFL players looking for a place to play, even the possibility of XFL play resuming in spring of 2021 should make everyone excited about the future. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, but the future looks as bright as ever for this league.
While we wait for the dust to settle on all of these developments, it seems like a good time to look at one of the best stories to come out of this league, the St. Louis BattleHawks.
Once the XFL re-boot was announced, cities across the country were vying for an opportunity to have a team in their town. St. Louis seemed like an obvious fit from day one. Ever since the Rams left for LA, the fan base in St. Louis felt betrayed. There are countless articles online dissecting why the team left, but there is a stereotype when it comes to St. Louis sports. The stigma has always been that St. Louis is a baseball town since the Cardinals have such a storied franchise and no other team could find the success they have.
On December 5th 2018, the 8 cities were unveiled and to no one’s surprise, St. Louis was one of those cities chosen. On June 25th the team announced that Kurt Hunzeker would be the team president. Hunzeker was previously with Rawlings as the Senior Director of Brand Marketing and had several close ties to St. Louis.
Hunzeker preached “Born and raised” from day one and he obviously meant it. Major news outlets in St. Louis gave high praise for hiring someone like Hunzeker to be the president of the team, but were skeptical about how successful this team could really be.
Hunzeker began a grassroots campaign of getting the community involved in this team. He would hand out his personal email address to fans and ask for their direct feedback on what they wanted to see with this team. He was (and still is) actively engaged on social media with fans and wanted them to feel like they had a voice with this team. He went out during the high school fall football season and would engage people there.
Hunzeker employed many strategies to gather more support for this team, and when the draft took place, he and the entire team would continue their community engagement. With each event, the fan base would more and more.Hunzeker knew what many people outside of St. Louis don’t always grasp, St. Louis is a sports town, not just a baseball town.
One of the other unique items about this team is their online presence. There are several social media groups dedicated to the BattleHawks. If you happen to come across one of their Facebook groups, you will find that the BattleHawks and Vipers are bitter rivals, even though they never played one another. This is also where the Ka-Kaw was born. Fans continue to be actively engaged on social media and are quick to give a Ka-Kaw when they see a fellow BattleHawks fan in public.
All of this hard work paid off when games finally kicked off in the Dome in week 3. Fans were there early and even greeted the team as they arrived at the stadium. The atmosphere was electric, and the BattleHawks did not disappoint. It was
The team’s popularity wasn’t confined to when they played either. The St. Louis Blues were playing at home in between weeks 3 and 4 and several of the players attended the game. The Blues are the defending Stanley Cup champions, but when the BattleHawks players were shown on the jumbotron, the stadium was filled with applause and Ka-Kaws.
Anyone who follows the XFL or the BattleHawks knows the game against LA was going to have 50,000 plus fans in attendance. Although we never got to see that, this team has a very bright future ahead now that the league has new ownership. No matter what happens moving forward though, Hunzeker, Hayes, the players, and the fans showed the league how special the St. Louis BattleHawks are.
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