The kickoff of the XFL 2023 season doesn’t take place until a week after the Super Bowl on Saturday, February 18th. But for all intents and purposes, Sunday night’s Town Hall announcement of home cities and venues, airing on the league’s website at 7 pm ET, is XFL 3.0’s actual launch date.
After all, despite the important league news leading up until now. The XFL’s five-year TV deal with Disney through ABC, ESPN, and FX. The league’s six-player showcases across the country, its relationship with the NFL through the NFL Academy, and all the coaching and personnel hirings. Until the XFL officially unveils its eight cities. It’s hard to feel like it’s arrived on the scene.
The league’s eight head coaches, assistants, and personnel directors will be happy to finally attach their names to a city three months after being officially hired. Once the new XFL eventually forms a large part of its identity. They can finally move forward.
For better or worse, although some aspects and people remain from the 2.0 version, XFL 3.0, with a new league logo, branding, and mantra through the ownership of RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne Johnson, is going to be a different league than the one that existed leading into and during 2020.
It’s hard to believe, but the XFL is coming back in its third iteration, and this will likely be the final chance for the XFL to make it. There won’t be a 4.0. The new ownership group is taking a massive plunge into what has traditionally been a dry and dead wasteland. And they are diving into the space with a rival already on the scene in the USFL.
The battle for spring pro football supremacy has only just begun. The XFL and USFL may not share the exact same time for the entirety of their seasons on the calendar. (February to May versus April to July) But they will attempt to co-exist in the same space, competing for football talent and fan interest.
Both entities will try and one-up each other in the coming weeks and months to present a better football league. The USFL got back into the spring pro football league game before the new XFL could, and they snapped up many of the players who have inhabited spring leagues in the last few years.
The new XFL football brass, with some key members who were a part of the old one, will need to work extra hard to obtain the future stars of spring pro football and present their league as the more viable long-term option to players and their agents. They have an arduous task facing them.
Barring an alien invasion or nuclear war interfering with XFL 3.0. The new league will either sink or swim based on the football and business decisions they make moving forward and the type of sports/entertainment property they present.
The XFL’s hype, promotion, and presentation will be very strong with ESPN and arguably the world’s most famous figure, the Rock teaming up.
We have already seen the baby steps of that process, with the league getting early attention on Sportscenter, the ESPYs, and the Jimmy Kimmel show. Expect more in the seven months till kickoff. But will the substance of the league match the style?
Presenting a great football product is easier said than done. And because of the nearly three-year wait and the current landscape, anything less than being great right out the gate won’t be well received.
The eight cities chosen will be a significant factor in the XFL’s level of success. For the last two years, Gerry Cardinale, Dwayne Johnson, and Dany Garcia have talked about the XFL being a live event property that captures the attention and interest of football fans beyond just the actual games.
With the world in a seemingly better place now than when they bought the league during an uncertain pandemic. The XFL’s new ownership group will have an opportunity to show if their strategy of tapping into their markets and the public will pay off.
The 8 XFL Cities
Spoiler alert, as reported here since March. Barring unforeseen last-minute changes, always a possibility when making business deals, the XFL’s eight cities will be the league’s primary headquarters, Dallas, with the remaining seven, Houston, Seattle, San Antonio, DC, Las Vegas, Orlando, and St. Louis.
Three new cities enter the picture for the XFL in San Antonio, Orlando, and Las Vegas. While five 2.0 locations return, New York, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay are out for now.
Some of the eight cities chosen by the XFL will receive some scrutiny, starting with the absence of NY and LA, the two biggest TV markets. And the decision to load up with three Texas-based teams will certainly raise Rock-like eyebrows.
Finances are always at the heart of all these choices, and a Texas-heavy league indicates that. When it comes to tax breaks, practice facilities, workers comp laws, and the ability to use multiple travel options.
Monday’s league press conference in Arlington with city officials and the heads of REV entertainment, an events business created by the Texas Rangers, should help reveal a clearer picture of the XFL’s business and football plans heading into their 2023 season and beyond. RedBird and REV Entertainment, as reported here at XFL News Hub earlier this year, have been in talks for several months to formalize a partnership.
The 8 XFL Venues
The venues are almost as important as the cities themselves. Especially as it pertains to the business side. Selling tickets and earning/building local interest is the league’s primary goal in year one of XFL 3.0.
Similar to the XFL in 2020. All signs point to a mix of moderate-sized venues and NFL stadiums.
Choctaw Stadium, formerly Globe Life, returns with Dallas. TDECU Stadium is expected to host the Houston franchise again. The Dome will return to St. Louis. Lumen Field seems like a logical bet to return as Seattle’s home site for games. Will the location of the beer snake? Audi Field in DC, run it back with the XFL.
It stands to reason that the Alamodome will host XFL San Antonio. Orlando has several different venue options. Like Camping World or Exploria Stadium. In contrast, Las Vegas has few options other than the obvious one, Allegiant Stadium. The home of the Raiders.
From day one of all these locations, Las Vegas has been the “I’ll believe it when I see it” choice. While there’s undoubtedly a ton of sex appeal and cache having a team in Vegas, that will assuredly tie into sports betting. The logistics and operational costs for year one of XFL 3.0 in the glitzy city seem like a bold option for year one of the launch. However, Bold might be the entire direction and approach of the new XFL.
The financial deals and logistics with all eight team venues will be an essential part of the puzzle. But here’s where things can get awkward. What if the league announces their eight cities and venues without revealing their team names, brands, and uniforms?
The XFL press release for tonight’s Town Hall at Texas Live! mentions the announcement of “home cities and stadiums” for the 2023 season. But in the last hours, there are some rumblings that team names could be revealed as well.
The city of St. Louis will be pleased and relieved to get their pro football team back. But if the BattleHawks name is not mentioned. It will create confusion and lead many to wonder if the XFL’s rebranding of the league logo is also on the agenda for all eight XFL teams.
St. Louis wants their BattleHawks back. Not sure the XFL will get their desired response from the league’s best market in 2020 if the Scorpions or Scooters are unveiled instead. Easy money says that it wouldn’t be favorable.
Some time ago, the XFL closed its team and league merchandise shop. A clear signal that changes were on the horizon for the league’s branding. The league logo and colors have since changed. There will come a time when the XFL shop reopens for team brands. Will it be to introduce brand new logos and uniforms for each team? When is the more pertinent question?
But for the moment, the unveiling of new league merchandise can wait. Revealing team names and their logos, however, is something that should be a part of tonight’s announcement.
There might be some time before XFL 3.0 reveals all their new attire, and the sooner they get to that destination, the better. In a perfect world, the team names would be revealed now as a bridge to the ultimate unveiling of helmets, uniforms, etc. Perhaps during the XFL Draft in November.
There is uncertainty with the 2020 logos of the Roughnecks and Renegades. NFL properties, the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, and Take-Two Interactive software came after the XFL pretty hard for the Roughnecks and Renegades logos. Even Houston’s “For the H” mantra met contention from the Astros.
So it’s possible that those two brands could be altered or maybe even abandoned altogether.
The XFL’s new leadership group wants to put their own spin and twist on their league. Understandably so, but there is brand equity built up already with team names from 2020. Abandoning the brands for the returning cities seems like an unnecessary and risky choice.
When the XFL was purchased by RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne Johnson two summers ago. In the early days after, there was hope that the league would turn the lights back on and pick up right where they left off.
But as time passed, it became apparent that changes would be inevitable. Chairwoman Dany Garcia tipped off the new direction in early interviews by talking about the league resetting and reassessing before moving forward. That’s precisely what has happened in the last two years.
It’s been an intriguing road to the field for the XFL’s new owners. 2021 was ruled out quickly. 2022 was sidetracked by a potential CFL joint partnership that never manifested. The league is finally on course for a return that is, in many respects, a debut. Shadows of the old identity remain somewhat. But a new identity is on its way.
Tomorrow’s XFL starts today.
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