The 2023 XFL season kicks off only a week after the Super Bowl Saturday February 18. But for all intents and purposes, Sunday night’s City Hall announcement of origin cities and venues, which aired on the league’s website at 7 p.m. ET, is the actual launch date for XFL 3.0.
After all, despite the major league news leading up to this. The XFL’s five-year TV deal with Disney via ABC, ESPN and FX. The league showcases six players across the country, its relationship with the NFL through the NFL Academy, and all coaching and staff hirings. Until the XFL officially unveiled its eight cities. It’s hard to feel like it happened on the scene.
The league’s eight head coaches, assistants and personnel directors will be happy to finally attach their name to a city three months after being officially hired. Once the new XFL eventually forms a big part of its identity. They can finally move on.
For better or for worse, although some aspects and people remain from version 2.0, XFL 3.0, with a new league logo, branding and mantra thanks to the ownership of RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson, is going to be a different league than the one that existed before and during 2020.
It’s hard to believe, but the XFL is coming back in its third iteration, and this will likely be the XFL’s last chance at success. There will be no 4.0. The new ownership group is plunging heavily into what was traditionally a dead, dry wasteland. And they’re diving into space with a rival already on the scene at the USFL.
The battle for spring pro football supremacy has only just begun. The XFL and USFL may not share the exact same time for their entire seasons on the schedule. (February to May versus April to July) But they will try to coexist in the same space, competing for football talent and fan interest.
Both entities will try to outdo each other in the weeks and months to come to present a better football league. The USFL got back into the pro football league’s spring game before the new XFL could, and it signed many players who have inhabited the spring leagues for the past few years.
The new brass of XFL football, with some key members who were part of the old one, will have to work very hard to secure the future stars of spring professional football and present their league as the most viable long-term option for players. and their agents. They have an arduous task ahead of them.
Except alien invasion or nuclear war interfering with XFL 3.0. The new league will sink or swim depending on the football and business decisions it makes moving forward and the type of sports/entertainment property it features.
The hype, promotion and presentation of the XFL will be very strong with ESPN and arguably the most famous figure in the world, the Rock teaming up.
We’ve already seen the early stages of this process, with the league quickly drawing attention to Sportscenter, the ESPYs and the Jimmy Kimmel show. Expect more in the seven months leading up to kick-off. But will the substance of the league match the style?
Presenting a great football product is easier said than done. And due to the nearly three-year wait and the current landscape, anything less than being awesome from the get-go won’t be well received.
The eight cities chosen will be a major factor in the level of success of the XFL. Over the past two years, Gerry Cardinale, Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia have said the XFL is a live event property that captures the attention and interest of football fans beyond the actual games.
With the world in a seemingly better place now than when they bought the league during an uncertain pandemic. The new XFL ownership group will have the opportunity to show whether its strategy of exploiting its markets and the public will pay off.
The 8 XFL cities
Spoiler alert, as reported here since March. Barring unforeseen last-minute changes, which are always possible during commercial transactions, the eight XFL cities will be the league’s main headquarters, Dallas, with the other seven, Houston, Seattle, San Antonio, DC, Las Vegas, Orlando and St. Louis.
Three new cities are entering the scene for the XFL in San Antonio, Orlando and Las Vegas. As five 2.0 locations return, New York, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay are out for now.
Some of the eight cities chosen by the XFL will come under scrutiny, starting with the absence of NY and LA, the two biggest TV markets. And the decision to take on three Texas-based teams is sure to raise some eyebrows at the Rock.
Finances are always at the heart of all these choices, and a Texas league indicates it. When it comes to tax breaks, practice facilities, worker compensation laws, and the ability to use multiple travel options.
Monday’s league press conference in Arlington with city officials and officials from REV Entertainment, an events company created by the Texas Rangers, should help reveal a clearer picture of the business and football plans of the XFL heading into their 2023 season and beyond. RedBird and REV Entertainment, as reported here at the XFL News Hub earlier this year, have been in talks for several months to formalize a partnership.
The 8 XFL venues
The sites are almost as important as the cities themselves. Especially when it comes to the business side. Selling tickets and winning/generating local interest is the league’s primary focus in Year 1 of XFL 3.0.
Similar to the XFL in 2020. All signs point to a mix of mid-size venues and NFL stadiums.
Choctaw Stadium, formerly Globe Life, returns with Dallas. TDECU Stadium is set to once again host the Houston franchise. The Dome will return to Saint-Louis. Lumen Field seems like a logical bet to return as Seattle’s venue for games. Will the beer location meander? Audi Field in DC, kick it up with the XFL.
It stands to reason that the Alamodome will host XFL San Antonio. Orlando has several different venue options. Like Camping World or Exploria Stadium. In contrast, Las Vegas has few options other than the obvious, Allegiant Stadium. Home of the Raiders.
From day one of all these places, Las Vegas has been the “I’ll believe it when I see it” choice. While there’s undoubtedly a ton of sexiness and cachet having a team in Vegas, it’s bound to be sports betting related. The logistical and operational costs for XFL 3.0’s first year in the glitzy city seem like a bold option for the first year of launch. However, Bold could be the whole direction and approach of the new XFL.
Financial arrangements and logistics with the eight team locations will be a critical part of the puzzle. But this is where things can get awkward. What if the league announced its eight cities and venues without revealing their team names, brands and uniforms?
The XFL press release for tonight’s Town Hall on Texas Live! mentions the announcement of the ‘host cities and stadiums’ for the 2023 season. But in the last few hours, there are rumors that the names of the teams could also be revealed.
The city of Saint-Louis will be delighted and relieved to find its professional football team. But if the name BattleHawks is not mentioned. This will create confusion and lead many to wonder if the rebranding of the league logo by the XFL is also on the agenda for the eight XFL teams.
St. Louis wants its BattleHawks back. Not sure the XFL will get the desired response from the league’s best market in 2020 if the Scorpions or Scooters are unveiled instead. Easy money says that would not be favorable.
A while ago, the XFL closed its team and league merchandise store. A clear signal that changes were on the horizon for the league’s branding. The league logo and colors have since changed. There will come a time when the XFL Store reopens for team brands. Will it be to introduce new logos and uniforms for each team? What is the most relevant question?
But for now, the unveiling of new league merchandise can wait. Revealing team names and logos, however, is expected to be part of tonight’s announcement.
It might be a while before XFL 3.0 reveals all of their new outfits, and the sooner they get to that destination, the better. In a perfect world, team names would be revealed now as a bridge to the ultimate unveiling of helmets, uniforms, and more. Maybe in the XFL Draft in November.
There is uncertainty with the 2020 logos of the Roughnecks and Renegades. NFL properties, the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, and Take-Two Interactive software came after the XFL quite tough for the Roughnecks and Renegades logos. Even Houston’s “For the H” mantra has been challenged by the Astros.
It is therefore possible that these two brands will be modified or even completely abandoned.
The XFL’s new management group wants to put its own spin on its league. Naturally, but there is already brand equity with team names from 2020. Dropping brands for return cities seems like an unnecessary and risky move.
When the XFL was bought by RedBird Capital Partners, Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson two summers ago. In the early days that followed, it was hoped the league would turn the lights back on and pick up where it left off.
But over time, it became clear that changes would be inevitable. President Dany Garcia announced the new direction in early interviews talking about resetting and re-evaluating the league before moving forward. This is precisely what has happened over the past two years.
It’s been an intriguing road to the field for new XFL owners. 2021 was quickly ruled out. 2022 was hijacked by a possible joint CFL partnership which never materialized. The league is finally on track for a comeback that is, in many ways, a start. The shadows of the old identity remain somewhat. But a new identity is on the way.
Tomorrow’s XFL starts today.