There has been a lot of chatter in the alt football world recently regarding spring football leagues playing in hub cities. The USFL is currently playing all its games in one city, Birmingham. At the same time, a move like that seems good on paper, but it is not. There is a big disconnect between fans of the league’s home cities, which is an issue pointed out by both hardcore football fans, and the casual football person.
Recently our own XFL insider Mike Mitchell has written about talks within XFL circles of the league possibly doing the same thing. However, not so fast to jump to conclusions. The XFL’s version of a hub is different.
In Mitchell’s report about Anthony Becht coaching in the XFL, he dropped this piece of information that seems to be over looked.
“Recently, sources have indicated that the XFL has been pivoting from having a potential fully-fledged hub setting for the league. And leaning more towards setting up central league headquarters in Texas for all eight teams. The idea is that teams would practice together and have mini and training camps in Texas before playing games in local markets during the season.”
This move by the XFL would have the best of both worlds. Let us break this down because this is a brilliant approach to season one of the XFL 3.0 era.
Politics and Paperwork Cost Lots Of Money
When the AAF was trying to set up practice areas for each of its team cities, something seemly so simple to set up was a significant roadblock. Politics, local ordinances, licenses, and insurance are just a few obstacles to overcome to have a team practice football in a location.
Due to Florida’s worker’s compensation laws, the Orlando Apollos, under head coach Steve Spurrier, had to practice in Georgia. You get the idea, apply it to eight other locations, and see that it can be a costly headache.
What if, instead, all your teams practice in the same state or area. This way, you only need to figure out the logistics once. Hence the idea of Texas as the HQ for the XFL. This logistical nightmare is why the USFL wanted to start in one location, Birmingham.
But what the USFL lacks, which is genuine interest in the league in local markets, the XFL can make up for by flying teams to the home locations on a Thursday or Friday and then playing games on Saturday and Sunday.
The players can meet fans, have events, talk with local reporters then fly back to Texas afterward. Does it matter where the DC Defenders practice if you are a fan? You want a chance to meet the team and see the games live. That’s about it. You can still do all with this approach.
Why There Are XFL Three Teams In Texas
It is clear now why the XFL has three teams in Texas. You can do the math and calculate how playing a certain percentage of all your games in one state can save money. Let alone practice and train in the same location. One team can practice at 12 pm at location A, and the next team can come in at 4 pm and practice at the same location. Saving money for the league and sharing resources. From the little things like equipment for teams, trainers, water jugs, athletic tape, you name it, teams can share it.
Think about travel costs if all teams flew out of the same airport. Texas is central to all the locations. Flying into Seattle, DC, St Louis, Orlando, and Las Vegas is more manageable than flying into Birmingham. LA and New York would be easy too, but those locations are expensive. Trust me, I grew up on Long Island and now live in Maryland.
Hotel costs, you can make a deal with one hotel in Texas. Then for home games, you only have to pay for two or three days’ stay for games outside of Texas. Hotels are already paid for in Texas for the whole 2023 season, so it costs you nothing extra when games are played in Texas.
Locations Don’t Want To Be Burned Again
Mitchell has also talked about the frustration within XFL circles on how hard it is to land local deals because the XFL 2.0 locations were burned before. However, the XFL 2.0, did prove that in areas like DC, Seattle, and St. Louis, the thirst for spring football is there.
Not playing in the cities for the 2023 season would be a lost opportunity to build good faith with the fan base. Also, think about all the lost ticket revenue in these cities. The XFL could easily sell 30,000 tickets for a BattleHawks game in St Louis. The city was on the cusp of this before COVID shut the league and everything down. Having this hybrid Hub model would solve this.
The XFL kicking off the 3.0 era with 30,000 fans in St. Louis would be huge for the league in terms of optics. The league needs to build a bridge back to fans and to places like LA and New York. A good showing for a season in 2023 could certainly open the doors for the LA Wildcats and New York Guardians to rejoin the league. It would also show the other non Texas teams that the league is back and they want to bring the teams home for the 2024 season.
News Hub writer Pat Rifino recently talked on The Markcast, about what is better optics for football fans. Have the first five weeks of a spring football season, then it gets shut down because it burned through money, or the league actually comes back for a season two. The hub model has to be the way for both the USFL and XFL to start. The question will be five years from now, which model was better.
As for Texas as the home location of the XFL? Why not. SpaceX, Bitcoin mining, the Tesla Gigafactory are some of the few business to open shop in Texas recently because the state has been business friendly. Coupled with the states obsession with football, its a win win. With the XFL’s approach to a hybrid hub season, they can get the best of both worlds.
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