Big Moves the XFL Could Make for 2021: Part 1
Dallas didn’t turn out for the Renegades in their inaugural season, averaging a mere 17,159 fans (rounded to the nearest whole, because I don’t think you can have a fraction of a person) over three home games. This is below the league average game attendance of 18,125. However, there is a much more qualified city in Texas that I think would be a great host for the Renegades. That city is San Antonio.
Historically, the Alamo City supports its alternative football teams and was home to the San Antonio Commanders, the best-attended team in the Alliance of American Football (AAF). The Commanders were averaging a league-best 27,721 fans per home game prior to the AFF closing its doors. That’s 10,562 more people per home game than the Renegades. The Alamodome hasn’t found a spring tennent since the AAF’s closure, meaning there are open dates and open seats waiting to be filled.
San Antonio hosted the NFL’s New Orlean Saints for two weeks during the 2005 season while New Orleans was recovering from the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. The Alamo City has also been brought up as a possible NFL expansion location in the past and even business-savvy Jerry Jones was behind the idea. Raiders owner Mark Davis also flirted with the idea of using San Antonio as a transitional city while the team was waiting for Allegiant Stadium to be built in Las Vegas. It’s for these reasons and more, the Renegades should move to San Antonio.
The Los Angeles Wildcats struggled to generate attendance for the city’s third football team, drawing a meager 14,979 fans for their highest attended game. Even on their best day, this put the Wildcats well below the league average of 18,125 fans per game.
Luckily for RedBird Capital Partners, the owners of the XFL, California is full of better cities that a team could call home. With the AAF long gone, San Diego is once again a wide-open market. The Chargers served the area well from 1961-2016 and with the IFL’s San Diego Strike Force going on hiatus, America’s Finest City is deprived of professional football for the first time since 1960. SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm Stadium) is currently the city’s most suitable venue to host an XFL team, and in 2022, when the NCAA’s San Diego Aztecs will begin playing the new 35,000 seat Mission Valley Stadium, another potential home for the relocated Wildcats may be available.
If San Diego is burned out from professional football, the City of Oakland would gladly take a new team in the wake of the Raiders bolting for Vegas. Oakland would have to play in the old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum as there are no other suitable venues in the city. However, the A’s may be moving to Howard Terminal Ballpark, leaving Oakland-Alameda to be occupied solely by the Wildcats. There is precedent for Alternative Football teams moving into large recently vacated stadiums, like when the Dallas Renegades moved to Globe Life Park following the Texas Rangers departure.
Maybe Oakland isn’t ready to welcome a young team in a young league, but there are other cities in the Bay Area such as San Jose that might be. The city’s most famous team of the past is the former San Jose Sabercats, who played in the Arena Football League (AFL). The city was also the launching pad for NFL legend Bill Walsh, who coached the San Jose Apaches of the Continental Football League back in 1967. Currently, there is only one viable venue in the San Jose area, that being CEFCU Stadium, home of the NCAA’s San Jose State Spartans. Though the stadium is old, San Jose State is looking to extend the venue’s lifespan via the Spartan Athletics Center which will also expand capacity from its current 21,520 by 2023.
If those two cities feel like they don’t want to host the Wildcats, there is always San Francisco. It seems highly unlikely the 49ers would let the Wildcats play at Levi’s Stadium, leaving only Oracle Park to house the team. Surprisingly, Oracle Park has hosted spring football in the past back in 2001 with the San Francisco Demons of the original XFL. The scheduling would overlap with the Giants baseball season, but for only five to eight dates.
Florida is already home to the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers who boast the league’s third-best average attendance. But the state offers an even greater market, perhaps even more eager for professional football. That city is Orlando, Florida. This is another former Alliance of American Football city, home to the Apollos, and it was second most successful in average attendance, going undefeated when the league folded. Prior to the AAF, Orlando had teams in the World Football League, USFL, World League of American Football, Arena Football League, and the 2001 incarnation of the XFL.
Venues are aplenty in The Beautiful City, with three major stadiums that could host an XFL team. The first of which is the Bounce House, home of the University of Central Florida Knights and former home of the Orlando Apollos of the AAF. With a capacity of just over 44,000, it’s around the right size for an XFL venue. Maybe the XFL doesn’t want to play at a former AAF venue if they can help it and want something new. If that’s the case, Exploria Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City FC and the National Women’s Soccer League’s Orlando Pride would be a solid choice. The stadium is also the host to the NCAA’s Cure Bowl. Exploria does have one major downside, the capacity. The stadium only seats 25,500, which, seeing how well the XFL is doing in attendance, could become overflowed very soon.
If capacity is the issue, Camping World Stadium that seats over 60,000 is the solution. It is the mecca of alternative football and has been home to eight teams in various alternative football leagues. An added bonus to having Orlando join the XFL is that the league may be able to talk Steve Spurrier into coaching a team in O-Town as he’s already expressed interest in the prospect.