The XFL released the first eight cities welcoming teams into the league’s reboot. Those cities include:
- Tampa Bay
- St. Louis
- New York
- Los Angeles
Do those cities look familiar? They should. Each one of them hosts an NFL team except for St. Louis, which only recently lost the Rams.
CEO Vince McMahon had two options for his new league: place teams in smaller markets without competition or place teams in established football markets and steal a share of the pie. McMahon chose the latter and in the process told the NFL to bring it on. I personally was expecting large market cities such as Portland, San Diego, and San Antonio, where there was no NFL competition to deal with.
Competition is nothing new for the NFL of course. Many have tried to overthrow the NFL as the kingpin of football, but nobody has been close. The original XFL placed teams in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco and folded after McMahon called the league “a colossal failure.” The USFL had teams scattered all over the NFL’s territory and even stole players from the NFL, but even they folded after the now President tried to compete head-to-head with the NFL.
Perhaps this time around will be different for McMahon. He clearly has a plan to target those who are disgruntled with the NFL’s social issues. He will not allow protesters or criminals into his league. There may be a market there as debates about the national anthem and domestic violence continue to plague the NFL. However, the XFL contracts are more comparable to the CFL, meaning the quality of the product will suffer.
They are also currently without a national TV deal. The NFL has CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC/Disney by the balls which leaves little room for the XFL. McMahon will need to solve this problem because TV deals are the lifeblood of sports leagues. It’s possible the new league could partner with the CW or offer streaming services through social media, but the reach would not be nearly as wide.
Even with no TV deal, the XFL does not seem afraid. The league must feel confident major markets will grow to love their teams full of NFL draft busts and mid-major standouts.