The XFL is returning and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announced when on Thursday — 2020. But he did not announce where.
Originally lasting just one season, the league was created by WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and aired to good ratings on NBC. Despite drawing praise from fans looking for an off-season brand of football, the game play drew the ire of more seasoned watchers of the game for the poor play on the field.
Speculation is that McMahon, who rushed the original XFL into existence without an offseason of practices for players and coaches, has learned from the failing and is ready to strike while the iron is hot for disenfranchised NFL fans.
Talks of the rebooted version of the XFL began in December when McMahon sold off 3.3 million shares of WWE stock to raise nearly $100 million to fund athletic ventures.
"Vince McMahon has established and is personally funding a separate entity from WWE, Alpha Entertainment, to explore investment opportunities across the sports and entertainment landscapes, including professional football. Mr. McMahon has nothing further to announce at this time," WWE said in a statement on Dec. 16, 2017.
In its first attempt to launch, the league had eight teams in two divisions, including major markets and those not directly served by the NFL, including Birmingham, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Orlando -- of which three of those make sense to bring back -- but with Las Vegas and other major markets seemingly out of play for a team, there are some better choices to be made.
PopCulture.com has 12 suggestions for where teams should be located for the reboot.
The process behind identifying these locations were to identify cities that have a fanbase that would respect what the XFL would be about: more akin to older NFL policies, a less political agenda, and ties to military as well as ease of access and media markets.
The first step was to eliminate areas that are currently saturated like New York, or have exhibited a disinterest in supporting the teams like Los Angeles -- even at the cost of not being in those major metropolitan areas.
Other things that excluded cities were distance or current representation. There was no redoubling of cities that currently had an NFL team, which eliminated Las Vegas from consideration. It also made it more confined to the midwest and southeast -- even at the cost of regionality versus national representation.
Many of the city descriptions to follow are from Wikipedia citations.
XFL East: Birmingham (Alabama)
Birmingham is an obvious answer for a host city as it was in the original XFL plans as well as the USFL and WFL before that.
The city is served by four Interstate Highways: Interstate 20, Interstate 65, Interstate 59, and Interstate 22, as well as a southern bypass expressway Interstate 459, which connects with I-20/59 to the southwest, with I-65 to the south, I-20 to the east, and I-59 to the northeast, which would make travel easy for away teams to make the trip.
The population of Birmingham was 212,237 according to the 2010 United States Census and the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of about 1,128,047 -- which was approximately one-quarter of Alabama's population.
The centrally-located city in a football-passionate state -- with no professional team -- makes for an obvious answer to reboot an XFL franchise.
There is already multiple stadiums that could be used to play in and so there is little to no infrastructure concerns and in the last iteration of the league the city supported the game to the tune of averaging 17,000 fans per game.
Originally named the Thunderbolts, the team played its home games at legendary Legion Field. It was coached by Gerry DiNardo, a former star player at Notre Dame, and a previous head coach at Vanderbilt and LSU.prevnext
XFL East: Lexington (Kentucky)
This may seem like a departure to go into Lexington, but it makes a lot of sense to take a city that has a passionate fanbase (at least for college sports) and at least a multi-hour drive to see professional football, as Cincinnati is a dedicated drive to see a game.
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 60th-largest city in the United States. By land area, Lexington is the 28th largest city in the United States -- which adds to the appeal, as it is not a major metropolitan area, but it is far from something that could not support a team.
In the 2016 U.S. Census Estimate, the city's population was 318,449, anchoring a metropolitan area of 506,751 people and a combined statistical area of 723,849 people.
The city also boasts one of the nation's most stable economies with Xerox, Lexmark International, Lockheed-Martin, and IBM all having bases within the city. Additionally, United Parcel Service, Trane, and Amazon.com, Inc. have large operations in the city, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky is within the Lexington CSA, located in adjoining Georgetown. A Jif peanut butter plant located there produces more peanut butter than any other factory in the world.
The sticking point may be a place to play. The only available stadium would be at the University of Kentucky as the only other available field would be at the minor league baseball affiliate -- which has a stadium that only holds 7,000 fans.prevnext
XFL East: Orlando (Florida)
Orlando -- like Birmingham -- is a reboot of both the XFL and USFL, as the centrally-located Florida city supports the sport and makes sense to be in a market that does not have a professional football team to call its own.
The team was previously called The Rage and had a very successful season in the original XFL. It played its home games at Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl, which was configured so that the upper deck was closed off and all fans were seated in the lower bowl to give a better appearance for television. It was a move that was effective, as the Rage had one of the stronger fan bases in the league, with average attendance at over two-thirds of the lower bowl's capacity; the team sold out all 38,000 lower bowl seats for its home opener.
Using the Citrus Bowl -- now called Camping World Stadium -- continues to be a logical option as the recent renovations in 2014 made the venue a much more attractive one to see a game.
In the newly reconstructed stadium there are two 360-degree concourses, a 20,000-square-foot plaza deck ("Party Deck") in the north end zone, 41,000 all-new lower bowl seats with six additional inches of leg room and chairbacks, multiple giant video displays, new team facilities including locker rooms training rooms and attached media, new stadium operations facilities to allow better efficiency in food service, security, first aid and maintenance, new concessions and restrooms, and a vibrant open-air façade. The new mezzanine is now referred to as the "Plaza level". The upper deck, previously numbered the "300" level, is now numbered the "200" level.
The Orlando metropolitan area, which had a population of 2,387,138, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released in March 2016, making it the 24th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States, and the third-largest metropolitan area in Florida.prevnext
XFL East: Richmond (Virginia)
Richmond is home to three professional sports teams, though none of which compete in any major professional league. Virginia is also the most populated state without a major sports team -- though it does have some proximity to the Washington Redskins, which often holds its summer training camp in the city.
As of the 2010 census, the population was 204,214; in 2016, the population was estimated to be 223,170, the fourth-most populous city in Virginia. The Richmond Metropolitan Area has a population of 1,260,029, the third-most populous metro in the state -- and more than enough to support at team.
An XFL move into Richmond would not be the first team to try and make the city its home. The Richmond Raiders used the Richmond Coliseum -- which can hold a limited capacity of 15,000 as its home arena -- but began play in the 2010 as an expansion team of the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA). The Raiders moved to the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) when the Eastern Division of the AIFA merged with the SIFL in the winter of 2010, beginning SIFL play in the 2011 season. After just a single season in the SIFL the Raiders, along with four other members of the SIFL, became the charter members of the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL). The team was then a member the PIFL from 2012 to 2015.
The solution for a field is for the team to play at City Stadium. It is owned by the City of Richmond and is located south of the Carytown district off the Downtown Expressway. The stadium was built in 1929 and seats approximately 22,000 people and is currently in use by the Richmond Kickers, professional soccer team. With some investment in remodeling would be an ideal spot to play football.
The Greater Richmond area is served by the Richmond International Airport, is a major hub for intercity bus company Greyhound Lines, and is served by multiple interstates.prevnext
XFL West: Little Rock (Arkansas)
Centrally located inside of another state that does not have a professional football team, Little Rock may be an outside-the-box city for a team, but by avoiding teams currently served by the NFL as well as those that have passionate fans, it is an ideal choice.
Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The six county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 75th in terms of population in the United States with 724,385 residents according to the 2013 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.
Little Rock was also home to the Arkansas Twisters (later Arkansas Diamonds) of Arena Football 2 and Indoor Football League before both leagues folded. Those teams played at the Verizon Center -- which holds approximately 16,000 for football.
The ideal spot to play would be to use the War Memorial Stadium.
The stadium is primarily used for the Arkansas Baptist Buffaloes, Catholic High School Rockets, Little Rock Rangers and the secondary home stadium for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
A new scoreboard and video screen were added prior to the 2005 football season and the field was later upgraded to field turf in 2006 and following a second round of renovation in 2010, the stadium now holds over 54,000.
The renovations cost approximately $7.3 million and was completed in August 2010. The renovations also included the Sports Media Legends Wall of Honor, honoring Arkansas sports journalists that distinguished themselves in their careers and have made contributions to the stadium and to the sport.
Little Rock is served by two primary Interstate Highways and four auxiliary Interstates. I-40 passes through North Little Rock to the north, and I-30enters the city from the south, terminating at I-40 in the north of the Arkansas River. Shorter routes designed to accommodate the flow of urban traffic across town include I-430, which bypasses the city to the west, I-440, which serves the eastern part of Little Rock including Clinton National Airport, and I-630 which runs east–west through the city, connecting west Little Rock with the central business district. I-530 runs southeast to Pine Bluff as a spur route.prevnext
XFL West: Memphis (Tennessee)
Another city that is no stranger to hosting professional football, Memphis is another re-thread location for the XFL to reboot.
It was used by the original launch as the Memphis Maniax; the city also hosted a USFL team nicknamed the Showboats as well as the World League team Memphis Southmen, and was the temporary home of the Tennessee Titans before the franchise officially moved to Nashville. Not willing to give up on pro football, in 1995 the city welcomed the Memphis Mad Dogs as part of the Canadian Football League's attempt at bringing their league into American markets -- which was a short-lived experiment.
During the original run of the XFL, the team managed slightly over 20,000 fans per game-- which was in the lower half of league average attendance -- but that was nearly two decades ago and before the city became reinvigorated with the Memphis Grizzlies success, as well as the Memphis Tigers becoming a better on-field product at the collegiate level.
Memphis, although it is the largest city in the state, is still considered to be in the Titans’ market under the current television agreements in the NFL. Also, while Memphis is the 18th-largest city in the United States, it has always been only a medium-sized television market (currently 44th), and extremely unlikely to ever be considered for an NFL team -- if the league were to expand, which is less likely. Memphis is located within 500 miles of six current teams: the Titans, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, and Indianapolis Colts, but has nothing to call its own.
In 2013, the Liberty Bowl -- which is where this team would play -- and its setting received a $38 million facelift. It was repainted, and new lighting, new elevators, new turf, renovation of luxury boxes, better handicapped access, were added as part of the design by Memphis architect Tom Marshall of O.T. Marshall Architects. In addition, two new video boards were added, costing $2.5 million and including a Jumbotron, contributed by FedEx, which is headquartered in Memphis.
The city is also a crossroad of the nation -- and the proposed league. Interstate 40, Interstate 55, Interstate 22, Interstate 240, Interstate 269, are the main expressways in the Memphis area.
Interstate 40 is a coast-to-coast freeway that connects Memphis to Nashville, and on to North Carolina to the east, and Little Rock, Oklahoma City, and the Greater Los Angeles Area to the west.
Interstate 55 connects Memphis to Saint Louis and Chicago to the north, and Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana to the south.prevnext
XFL West: Oklahoma City (Oklahoma)
Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city ranks 27th among United States cities in population, which is likely news to many around the nation.
The population grew following the 2010 Census, with the population estimated to have increased to 631,346 as of July 2015. As of 2015, the Oklahoma City metropolitan area had a population of 1,358,452, and the Oklahoma City-Shawnee Combined Statistical Area had a population of 1,459,758 (Chamber of Commerce) residents, making it Oklahoma's largest metropolitan area.
The city played host to the Oklahoma Wranglers as members of the Central(1996–1997) and Western (1998–2001) Division of the American Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). The team played at the Myriad, now known as the Cox Convention Center, in downtown Oklahoma City.
It was a host to the Bricktown Brawlers of the Indoor Football League and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz of the Arena Football League.
The Cox Convention Center would not be an ideal home for this franchise as it will only hold 13,000 fans - which is simply not enough to support a team.
Where this franchise would have to play would be if one of the two competing organizers for a professional soccer team would be awarded both a soccer team and the XFL team with the promise of a brand new, 20,000 seat stadium to be build in Oklahoma City, otherwise this could be a tough sell for the city.
The other option would be to co-inhabit with the University of Oklahoma at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
On March 10. 2015, the University of Oklahoma board of regents approved the initial construction of "Phase 1" to renovate Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The renovation is expected to cost approximately $160 million and anticipated completion is just prior to the start of the 2016 football season. Due to uncertain economic conditions, the board of regents decided to start with "Phase 1" (which will focus primarily on the south endzone, football offices, training center and weight room), and proceed to "Phase 2" (which will focus on the west side of the stadium, including the press box, club seats and new facade. As well as various improvements to restrooms, escalators and concessions) at a later date, when the economic conditions have improved. The first phase of construction will bowl in the south endzone, and bring the total capacity to 83,489.
Oklahoma City is also an integral point on the United States Interstate Network, with three major interstate highways – Interstate 35, Interstate 40, and Interstate 44 – bisecting the city. Interstate 240 connects Interstate 40 and Interstate 44 in south Oklahoma City, while Interstate 235 spurs from Interstate 44 in north-central Oklahoma City into downtown.prevnext
XFL West: San Antonio (Texas)
Always a bridesmaid and never a bride for the NFL, the city of San Antonio has continually been bandied around as a threat for owners in the major professional league to move a team to -- though none ever have gone through with it.
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue stated San Antonio was successful in hosting the New Orleans Saints, and that the city would be on the short list for any future NFL expansions. The city has also hosted the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers preseason camps in the past, and the Cowboys practiced in San Antonio through 2011. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged his support for the city to become home to an NFL franchise.
It was not part of the original XFL -- which did not have a single team in Texas, though San Antonio and Austin could both support one -- they city has been part of the USFL as the Gunslingers and the World League as the Wings.
Despite a strong finish to the 1984 season by 1985 the Gunslingers were known to be badly undercapitalized, unlike most of their USFL brethren, and the product on the field showed which caused attendance to drop. The USFL did not do its due diligence on the owner of the team and in the wake of the mid-1980's oil price crash, Clinton Manges' fortune collapsed. It would soon emerge that the Gunslingers' owner had been in financial trouble since at least 1980.
An expansion team into San Antonio would immediately be able to use The Alamodome. The facility is a domed 64,000-seat, multi-purpose facility used as a football, basketball, soccer, baseball stadium and convention center.
The facility is a rectilinear 5-level stadium which can seat up to 64,000 spectators for a typical football game and is expandable to hold 72,000 spectators, allowing the possibility of hosting an XFL Championship Game.
The facility also was one of three "home" stadiums for the displaced NFL New Orleans Saints during the 2005 NFL season and was also the Dallas Cowboys' training camp site in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Notre Dame has played two Shamrock Series (home-away-from-home) games here against Washington State in 2009 and Army in 2016.
State high school football playoff games are regularly held in the Alamodome, including championship games in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The City of San Antonio, is the seventh most populous city in the United States and the second most populous city in both Texas and the Southern United States. The 2011 US Census estimate for the eight-county San Antonio–New Braunfels metropolitan area placed its population at 2,194,927, making it the third-most populous metro area in Texas (after Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and Houston Metropolitan Area) and the 24th-most populous metro area in the US.prevnext
Alternate Cities For XFL Expansion
Having an Eastern Division in Birmingham, Lexington, Orlando and Richmond makes for a very easy travel corridor for the XFL but there is one of those cities that may not be as ideal as the others with Lexington not having the immediate infrastructure to hold a team.
If given the chance, a city like Columbus (Ohio) may be most inclined to take one. The city is centrally located in the state and is the 14th-most populous cityin the United States, with a population of 860,090 as of 2016 estimates.
It would make sense to expand somewhat northern for the XFL and Columbus could deliver a quality market in a football hotbed that thirsts for a winner as it splits loyalties with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.
Most of the Western Division for the XFL is based on proximity, need, and ease of access with Little Rock, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio all being moderately sized markets with the first three being connected by the same interstate system it is far from a perfect answer.0comments
Adding areas like Austin (Texas), Omaha (Nebraska), Shreveport (Louisiana), or St. Louis (Missouri) could all be up for consideration based on multiple facets.
Austin and St. Louis deliver sizable markets while Omaha and Shreveport have passionate fans bases and pre-existing infrastructure for a team.prev