On January 25, 2018 Vince McMahan announced the return of the XFL and like that, the prodigal son hath returned. From now until the league kickoff in 2020, McMahan has promised fans a new, yet classical football experience without politics, something the NFL has been suffering from recently. He has plans to make small changes to certain rules and claimed it would be “football reimagined.” McMahan has also stated his intentions to hear the opinion of fans to better the game. In the most inclusive move yet, McMahan has even asked fans to make suggestions on the returning XFL possible teams 2018 locations. With that in mind, I chose to graciously accept this responsibility by writing my longest article yet. In this proposal I chose to ignore Vince’s comment about seeking eight teams and made the executive decision to immediately expand the league to twelve teams. As we’ve previously seen from staple football institutions such as the PAC-12 and the ironically titled Big Ten, that seems to be the magic number of minimum football success (sorry Big “12”). With that in mind, I created two division, East and West, that would comprise of six teams each. For the East, I recommended the six best options. For the West, I recommended nine different suitable options to choose from and specifically chose to leave out Las Vegas because the NFL already has plans to place a team there. So without ado;
Stadium: Alamodome. Capacity: 64,000.
Metro Population: 2,429,609.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 204 miles to Texans. 281 miles to Cowboys.
The Good: It’s hard to actually write down all the positives that would come from a professional football team in San Antonio. Judging by the absurd Spurs fan base and huge population, San Antonio could support all three major professional sports. San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the US and largest without an NFL team. Due to its close proximity to Austin, who uses the Longhorns as their professional team, the combined metro population of both areas would surely warrant a professional football team (especially after the severe depression UT has caused the area for the last four years). The best part about this city is that it already has a stadium large enough to facilitate a professional football team. The Alamodome was built with one of its intentions to draw an NFL team to the city and even hosted the Saints during the 2005 season for three home games. It is the 10th largest covered-field sports stadium in the world, making it larger than a majority of NFL stadiums.
The Bad: With a relatively close proximity to two NFL teams, the region could be seen as over saturated (this is me trying really hard to be unbiased because I don’t believe that at all and instead believe Jerry Jones has done everything he can to prevent a team from successfully stealing fair-weather central Texas Cowboys fans away from his evil regime).
Stadium: SDCCU. Capacity: 70,561.
Metro Population: 3,317,749.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 127 miles to Rams and Chargers.
The Good: It’s always a travesty to see a city lose a team, especially one they loved. It’s even more of a travesty to see that team go to another city in the same state and to make matters worse that city is Los Angeles. Clearly I’m not a fan of LA going from 0 to 2 NFL teams so I’ll try to stay unbiased. It is the perfect time for the XFL to take advantage of the NFL’s absence in the 8th largest city and for the people of San Diego to show the NFL how they can still support a professional football team. Now that the Chargers have departed, San Diego is the largest metro area without a professional football team. Some great news about this recent NFL absence for the XFL is the giant-unused professional football stadium. SDCCU Stadium, the previous home for the Chargers, is quite literally an NFL stadium that is up for the taking. With SDSU’s plan for their own football stadium, the city of San Diego will need to find use for this 70,561 capacity stadium quick. That should be a perfect opportunity for Vince to work a deal.
The Bad: San Diego is essentially as close to paradise as you can get in the continental US. With beautiful weather, beautiful beaches, beautiful people in a generally beautiful city, there might be a correlation for why attendance drastically dips during lousy seasons.
Stadium: Providence Park. Capacity: 22,000.
Metro Population: 2,424,955.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 174 miles to Seahawks.
The Good: This is one of those cities that will find themselves at the top of every list when mentioning a future professional sports team. Like San Antonio, Portland is a large city with only one professional sports team. With their dedicated fan base and growing population, its only a matter of time for them to claim a pro football team. This is a great opportunity for the XFL to swoop in and pick up where the NFL has missed out. If I know anything about Portland, which I clearly do since I watch Portlandia, Portland does not support Seattle. With the weird culture Portland boasts, the XFL might be the perfect league for a pro team. They already have an extremely nice MLS stadium that is ready for use and depending on the XFL success, could surely build a larger stadium specifically for football.
The Bad: Although they have a professional soccer stadium to use, it has a fairly low capacity. This could potentially be beneficial to guarantee sell-out games but could also backfire depending on league popularity. As I mentioned before, Portland is not notorious for repping Seattle but nevertheless, the close proximity could be a reason why the NFL has passed the city for so long.
Salt Lake City
Stadium: Rio Tinto. Capacity: 20,213 or Rice-Eccles Stadium. Capacity: 45,807.
Metro Population: 1,186,187.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 516 miles to Broncos.
The Good: Like so many other cities on this list, SLC is a one-team professional sports city. Like the other basketball-only cities, SLC has shown serious support for their sole team. Although Utah has enjoyed some competitive college football programs over the years, the state has not had the pleasure of enjoying their own professional football team. With the great distance and rugged mountainous terrain, cheering for another pro team does not come easy. SLC is surely a large enough city to support a professional team, as seen by the Jazz, and does not really have a reason to be a die hard fan of any other team. Although the NFL presumes to have a clinch on the Rocky Mountain market with Denver, they are missing one of the largest and most isolated cities and states in the mountains. An XFL team could give, not only the entire state, but the entire Mormon religion a pro football team to support. As we’ve seen from so many cults before, gaining a religious following means true dedication.
The Bad: Although gaining a religious following can be extremely lucrative, depending on the new image the XFL will have, the Mormons may not fully support it. For anything to truly succeed in Utah, having the Mormon support is a must. Also, a new stadium would probably be required in the future. Although SLC has a soccer stadium, or college stadium for larger games, neither would be ideal for long term success.
Stadium: needs stadium.
Metro Population: 1,373,211.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 211 miles to Cowboys.
The Good: Oklahoma has wanted a professional football team for some time. By finally acquiring an NBA team from Seattle, OKC has enjoyed a professional sports team with open arms and great fandom. The die-hard fan support for the Thunder would potentially transition over to a professional football team in such a football rich state. Not only would this team represented the largest city in the Oklahoma but the entire state since the locals are left to cheering for the Cowboys which is in a state they actively cheer against in college football. Judging on their love for football, not only does OKC deserve a professional team, but the state as a whole.
The Bad: More than likely, one of the main reasons OKC has yet to acquire a professional football team is because it would infringe on Jerry’s plan for Cowboys world domination. With Dallas being so close, Oklahoma is a hot bed for Cowboys fans which is something not easily overcome.
Stadium: needs stadium.
Metro Population: 924,129.
Distance to Nearest NFL City: 192 miles to Chiefs.
The Good: Considering the population of the Midwest, the NFL has done a decent job of covering that territory. The Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs gives those middle of America folks something to cheer about (and no I’m not counting Chicago, the only people that consider that the Midwest are people that have never visited the cold, tundra of the great plains, which inevitably is a majority of Americans #GreatPlainsVsGreatLakes). Although the ultra-large market facilitated NFL has done their Midwest due-diligence, they have inevitably left a blind spot. Omaha, a city in corn fields, is the biggest market for people in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa. Des Moines or Sioux Falls could have also been considered but Omaha is more centrally located.
The Bad: Although Nebraska’s giant Memorial Stadium is only 59 miles away in Lincoln, Omaha does not have its own football, or even soccer stadium, large enough for a professional team. This could however be a great opportunity for the city to build a brand-new professional multi-use stadium to attract other things.
Stadium: Dreamstyle. Capacity: 39,224 or possible future downtown soccer stadium.
Metro Population: 887,007 metro population.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 468 miles to Cards. 448 miles to Broncos. 636 miles to Cowboys.
The Good: Although squeezed between three largely populated states with professional teams, New Mexico has yet to acquire one of their own. Even with three NFL teams in nearly any direction, there isn’t one that’s closer than a six and a half hour drive. With the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos being a subsequently closer drive than Dallas, the state of New Mexico overwhelmingly supports the Cowboys for whatever awful reason. Regardless of being a fairly unpopulated state, the greater Albuquerque area accounts for roughly a third of the entire state population. The UNM Lobos already boasts an excellent football stadium that could be used, as well as the city taking initiative to build a brand-new soccer stadium downtown. The extra push for multiple uses by an XFL team could be just enough to get that project underway.
The Bad: It comes as no surprise that New Mexico is a fairly unpopulated state. Unfortunately, it also ranks amongst the least educated, least jobs and increased poverty. All of these reasons may be why the NFL has avoided this empty lot for so long. If El Paso was to get an XFL team, it would make it that much harder for Albuquerque to get their own.
Stadium: Sun Bowl. Capacity: 51,500.
Metro Population: 841,971.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 447 miles to Cards. 618 miles to Cowboys.
The Good: El Paso has a surprisingly high city population of 683,080 making it the 20th largest city in the US and 7th largest without an NFL team. Not to mention Juarez, the 5th largest city in Mexico at 1,321,004, is just across the border making El Paso the second largest international city in America behind San Diego. The nearest NFL team to this large international population is 447 miles away to the Arizona Cardinals. Of course since El Paso is in Texas, the majority of the population is obviously Cowboys fans. Unfortunately for them, Cowboys Stadium is 618 miles away which makes it 146 miles further than Memphis, Tennessee is to Cowboys Stadium. El Paso is also already prepared for a major football team with the Sun Bowl that holds over 50,000 fans. Other than an annual bowl game, this beautiful football stadium is vastly underused by UTEP’s depleting fan base.
The Bad: With two current NFL teams (and presumably an XFL team if Vince takes my recommendations) already in Texas, the Lone Star state is getting pretty full. Although El Paso is so far from any of these teams it could practically be in another state (or country), it’s hard to image this presumed little-big city in the desert would qualify for anything on a professional level.
Stadium: Hornet Stadium. Capacity: 21,195.
Metro Population: 2,296,418.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 115 miles to 49ers.
The Good: The Capital of California’s forgotten city. Sacramento is widely known for their government and relatively boring nightlife, by California standards. Although it is the fifth largest metro area in the state, Sacramento is rarely mentioned when people talk about California. The fact of the matter is, regardless of image, Sacramento continues to grow and is a viable option to live when compared to the cost of living in a more popular California city. Sacramento is home to the historic NBA team, the Kings, which they have unconditionally supported in the city since ’85. This is a large city with good sports fans that has been overlooked by the NFL for sometime and could give the XFL a stronghold in the greatly populated northern California.
The Bad: As previously mentioned, Sacramento is not known as a cool city in terms of California. Although it has a fairly large metro area, the city population is only 7th in the state behind places like Fresno and San Jose, cities that also don’t have a pro football team. With their close proximity to the larger San Fransisco, it might be hard to build a dedicated football fan base. This would also require building a new football stadium as their relatively small college stadium would not holdup against other cities with larger, more updated stadiums.
Stadium: Camping World. Capacity: 65,000.
Metro Population: 2,441,257.
Distance to Nearest NFL Stadium: 87 miles to Buccaneers.142 miles to Jags.
The Good: One of the largest cities in one of the most populated states somehow doesn’t have an NFL team. In the pro-sports heavy state of Florida, Orlando has been overlooked by the NFL. Although they claim in NBA team, the NFL has seemingly over-looked Orlando for Tampa Bay with the MLB as well. This could be due to the close proximity of the two large cities and the fact that Tampa is slightly larger. Nevertheless, Orlando is a large enough city for a pro team and a great way for the XFL to have a footprint in Florida. Not to mention, the city has a giant football stadium just waiting to be used. In fact, the XFL had previously used the stadium for the Orlando Rage. Although they tarpped off the upper deck for a better TV appearance, they sold out the 36,000 seat lower deck for their season opener. With all the hype the XFL is getting right now and all the hate the NFL is, they should easily be able to sell at least that many tickets for the revival.
The Bad: As stated above, Orlando may be a large enough city but it is very close to the even larger Tampa. Attempting to convert life-long buccaneers fans to an Orlando team could pose a potential threat. The good news is they don’t have to worry about trying to covert any Jags fans.
Stadium: Dome at America’s Center. Capacity: 70,000.
Metro Population: 2,807,002.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 244 miles to Chiefs. 297 miles to Bears.
The Good: Like San Diego, St. Louis is one of those cities that should have an NFL team. Since it still such a fresh wound, it feels weird to think about the Rams anywhere else. As previously mentioned, I will try to keep my person opinions about LA having two NFL teams out of this argument. Instead, I will focus on the fact that a great American sports city like St. Louis somehow does not have an NFL team. I understand it appears like a dying city. While others are booming with new developments and jobs, St. Louis continuously fights with Detroit and Chicago for murder and poverty rates. If Cleveland, Ohio can manage to maintain a professional football team however, there is no reason St. Louis cant. Good news for the XFL, St. Louis still has a fully operational professional football stadium ready to be put to get use. While the NFL is focusing their sights on progressive and international cities like LA, London and Mexico City, the XFL can swoop in and win the hearts of Americans by representing abandoned hard working cities like St. Louis.
The Bad: St. Louis may have the crime and poverty like Chicago but does not have the population or influence. In fact, St. Louis is a lot more comparable to cities like Detroit and Cleveland. Those are not places other cities tend to want to be compared to.
Stadium: Legion Field. Capacity: 71,594.
Metro Population: 1,147,417.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 146 miles to Falcons. 193 miles to Titans.
The Good: Regardless of who you cheer for in college football, you have to admit that Birmingham is a heartbeat to the world of college sports. It is continuously the highest ranked TV market for college football year after year, regardless of the extreme size difference it has with other cities. Although that deep-passionate football love comes from either Bama or Auburn fans, it could be argued that their football passionate would transfer to the professional level. Birmingham, and more importantly, the state of Alabama does not have a professional football team. If you live in northern Bama, like Huntsville, it’s easy to cheer for the Titans, for anywhere else in the state you probably cheer for the Falcons (for all the Bamers cheering for the Saints, something is clinically wrong with you, and no I don’t care about Mark Ingram. It is still Louisiana). Alabama loves Alabama, and for good reason, it’s an awesome state (don’t @ me Mississippi, you’re state is still mostly a shit hole). With a large stadium that has already hosted an XFL team, what is the down side? Finally give the entire state of Alabama one football team to cheer for together. Harvey Updyke won’t know what the hell to do.
The Bad: Practically all the reasons I listed for why Birmingham would be a great city, is why it wouldn’t. The Alabama football crowed is almost purely for college and very divisive. Legion Field, although large, is a total shit hole. Fortunately, there are plans to either build a new stadium or renovate the historic Legion Field. Which is good because I’m assuming it’s poor conditions, as well as questionable surroundings, were factors for why it no longer hosts the Iron Bowl.
Stadium: Liberty Bowl. Capacity: 58,207.
Metro Population: 1,342,842.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 215 miles to Titans.
The Good: In 1996 the Oilers chose to betray their Houston home for the state of Tennessee. Although Memphis was the largest city in the state, the hipsters in Nashville claimed the Oilers and changed the name. Memphis is another NBA city that has criminally never had the opportunity of hosting an NFL team. Like Orlando, they are ready for a pro team. The Liberty Bowl, a giant stadium that is used by the University of Memphis, is the perfect venue for an XFL team. Also similar to Orlando, Memphis has already had an XFL team and is eager to get one again. Steve Ehrhart, the former vice president and general manager of XFL Memphis Maniax and current executive director of the Liberty Bowl stated, “There’s an awful lot of players that want to play pro-football in the nation today. Plenty of great coaches around to have jobs, too. Memphis always had some of the best teams in the spring leagues.” With the size, fan base and history with the XFL, Memphis is practically a shoe-in for the 2020 opening season.
The Bad: Although Memphis is a large enough city, the fact of the matter is Tennessee already has a pro football team. Ironically however, Memphis has a disgustingly large Cowboy fanbase. While the XFL could potentially sway that confused Memphis population to cheer for the Maniax, it would be difficult to win over the rest of the state.
Stadium: Papa John’s Stadium. Capacity: 55,000.
Metro Population: 1,283,430.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 99 miles to Bengals. 113 miles to Colts.
The Good: This is a city that has somehow managed to not have a single professional sports team. With such a rich history in sports, Louisville seems to always be left out of the equation in terms of future sports teams. Being the largest city in Kentucky with a population more than double the size of their Ohio neighbors in Cincinnati, Louisville has deserved a pro team for awhile. The state of Kentucky pro-football fan support is about as confused as their public education system. With the state split up into about 5 groups of fans ranging from Steelers, Colts, Bengals, Titans and even some Cowboys, Kentucky is desperate to find one unanimous home. For the time being, the XFL could use the Louisville Cardinal’s stadium that is more than large enough to host any big football game. With the hopefully success future of the XFL, let KFC build a brand-new stadium to use.
The Bad: As previously mentioned, Kentucky is a very confused football state. With fans cheering for five different NFL teams, attempting to create a new fan base could be challenging. While overcoming support for certain teams like the Cowboys or Steelers potentially happening, The city’s close proximity to Cincinnati could serve as an obstacle.
Stadium: MAPFRE Stadium. Capacity:19,968.
Metro Population: 2,021,632.
Distance to Nearest NFL Team: 108 miles to Bengals. 145 miles to Browns.
The Good: The capital of Ohio is the state’s largest city and somehow is the only city to not have an NFL, NBA, or MLB team. Professionally over-shadowed by Cincinnati and Cleveland, Columbus hosts only two lesser professional teams in the NHL and MLS. Judging on their fan support for their two lesser pro teams, Columbus would surely welcome a professional football team. Not to mention, the two current Ohio professional football teams make it hard for someone two hours away from either to cheer for. Columbus is also one of the fastest growing cities with a population increase that doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. While Ohio State’s football stadium may be too large, Columbus has a historic MLS team with one of the first soccer stadiums. Although it may not be large, it has history with the people of Columbus and should sell out for games. With the high population and booming economy, Columbus appears to be a great opportunity for the XFL to plant a flag in the disappointing pro football state of Ohio.
The Bad: Regardless of recent success, Ohio already has two professional football teams, which is a lot for a state of their size. With Columbus being centrally located between the two, creating a dedicated fan base could be a potential hurdle. Even more threatening is the fact that Columbus is known throughout the US as the home of the Buckeyes, a football team with the largest fanbase in the state. Convincing the city to cheer for a professional team could be conflicting with their already die hard support for their college team.