When Vince McMahon announced that he will be reviving the XFL and that he will be relaunching it in the year 2020, he also stated that he wanted the new teams to be in the existing markets of the NFL (which in theory would rule out Birmingham, Memphis, and Orlando from the original XFL), but McMahon did not identify the potential cities that would host the new teams and he did not rule out any specific cities. McMahon also did not rule out playing on artificial turf.
The original XFL, however, avoided artificial playing surfaces. John Shumway from KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and local media from Orlando and San Diego both inquired about potential teams in their respective cities, but McMahon (while stating that “He Loves Pittsburgh”) declined to name any cities for teams. McMahon also stated that teams would have new identities compared to recycling old identities from the old league.
The original XFL included teams from Birmingham, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York/East Rutherford, NJ, Orlando, and San Francisco. The fact that McMahon hasn’t decided on the cities or the markets that would be the host for the new and upcoming 8 teams means that it is possible and likely that we will see a shakeup in the cities involved in 2020.
Despite some of McMahon’s statements on deciding on potential cities for the new and upcoming XFL, listed below are the potential cities that might end up as the host for the new and upcoming 8 teams:
New York City:
First and foremost, there is no way that Vince McMahon does not put a team in the NYC area. There’s too much value in NYC as a TV market and since WWE is based out of nearby Stamford, Connecticut, they’ll be close by as well. While it’s unlikely that the league will be able to put a team in the city itself, it’s much more likely that they’ll end up returning to East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the NFL’s Giants and Jets. If they’d rather be in a smaller stadium with less empty seats, they could always try to make a deal to play in Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.
It seems like a no-brainer for the league to have a Los Angeles team for the same reasons but now that the NFL has two franchises there (and can barely muster good crowds), perhaps the XFL would find success by taking advantage of the places where the NFL has spurned goodwill. The Chargers left San Diego for LA and left behind a perfectly fine stadium that needs a new tenant. San Diego is a great football market and plenty of fans there would likely love to stick it to the NFL by supporting a rival league. And if you don’t think that will be part of their marketing campaign, you don’t know Vince McMahon.
Same principle at work here. The Oakland Raiders are planning to move to Las Vegas in 2019, which creates a vacuum in the market to go with the empty Oakland Coliseum (The A’s are also trying to build a new stadium elsewhere). With the NFL’s 49ers out in Santa Clara, the XFL could be the only pro football team in San Francisco or Oakland. That’s quite the opportunity.
Yet another market spurned by the NFL. The Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, won a Super Bowl in 2000, and left in 2015 to return to Los Angeles. The St. Louis market seems too big not to have a professional football team and there’s certainly a chance to build a fanbase here. The football stadium, The Dome at America’s Center, has fallen into disrepair since the Rams left, so someone is going to have to foot the bill on that. But if the city wants the stadium to start generating revenue again, here’s their chance.
Yes, Las Vegas will have the Raiders by 2020, but it still makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, the city remains an untapped resource for pro sports franchises, and the XFL can ride the excitement that the Raiders will generate while appealing to fans who might not be able to afford high-priced NFL tickets. Given the politics of this “unpolitical” football league, it’s a decent bet that billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who withdrew his investment with the Raiders after feeling taken advantage of, would love to get involved with a rival team to compete with the NFL there.
It’s a smart bet that the XFL will return to Chicago once again. The population and market size are both too big for the league to ignore. The team could either work out a deal to play at Soldiers Field or potentially get involved with the soccer stadium plans currently percolating at Lincoln Yards.
The league will want a team in Florida and it just makes more sense to head to Orlando than it does to try for Miami. By returning to the same city as before, they’ll remain the only professional football team in town and have close proximity to football-starved fans in Tampa, Jacksonville, and Gainesville. The WWE also has a lot of history in Orlando, making it a solid market in which to harness that fanbase.
Birmingham makes sense for a few reasons. Number one, Alabama is a football hotbed without a pro team (though many will argue that the University of Alabama might as well be one by now). Second, it’s the center of a triangle between Atlanta, Nashville, and Memphis. Third, the values that McMahon ascribed to the league in his press conference line up pretty well with the values of the region.
That gives us eight teams but there is also a possibility of a wild card option.
Yes, the NFL does have the Cleveland Browns, but do they really have that big of a fanbase? They’re so bad that their fans just threw a parade to celebrate the team’s winless season.
Here’s the idea: The XFL should start a team in Cleveland, then they should bring in former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. Put all the possible efforts into making the Cleveland franchise the best team in the league. The Cleveland football team will win the next championship game and they will get the kind of attention and appreciation that no other XFL team could ever dream of.
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