McMa­hon’s XFL set to chal­lenge NFL

The News-Times - - BUSINESS - By Paul Schott [email protected]; 203-964-2236; twit­ter: @paulschott

WWE CEO Vince McMa­hon’s re­vived Xtreme Foot­ball League has filled out its open­ing ros­ter of eight host cities, as more com­peti­tors seek to chal­lenge the NFL’s grid­iron supremacy.

XFL of­fi­cials have an­nounced teams for its in­au­gu­ral 2020 sea­son in New York, Los An­ge­les, Hous­ton, Dal­las, Seat­tle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Fla., and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. McMa­hon has po­si­tioned the league as a fast-paced alternative to the NFL, with the release of the team lo­ca­tions com­ing the same week as a group of for­mer NFL play­ers an­nounced plans for an­other league.

“We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to es­tab­lish­ing a very ex­cit­ing, in­no­va­tive form of foot­ball that quite frankly we’ve never seen be­fore,” McMa­hon said at a press con­fer­ence this week at MetLife Sta­dium in East Ruther­ford, N.J., to an­nounce the new teams. “So much has changed in terms of the use of dig­i­tal… What has not changed is the love of foot­ball.”

XFL of­fi­cials said the eight teams will play a 10-game reg­u­lar sea­son, fol­lowed by play­offs that will in­clude two semi­fi­nals and a cham­pi­onship game. The sea­son would kick off the week­end fol­low­ing the 2020 Su­per Bowl.

The new squads will play in ex­ist­ing sta­di­ums. The New York team will be based at MetLife Sta­dium, which is also the home of the NFL’s New York Gi­ants and New York Jets.

XFL will not use WWE tal­ent to fill its ros­ters, McMa­hon has said. But he has not ruled out for­mer NFL play­ers such as Tim Te­bow and Colin Kaeper­nick join­ing the league if they abide by its rules and not have “any crim­i­nal­ity.”

“The big ques­tion is whether the XFL can at­tract mar­quee play­ers,” said Kevin McEvoy, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut. “What would make this re­ally com­pet­i­tive is if there were enough money in the XFL to pull in play­ers who would have other­wise gone to the NFL. They wouldn’t go to the XFL un­less the money is there.”

An­other pro­posed com­pe­ti­tion, the Free­dom Foot­ball League, was also an­nounced this week. Its 10 teams would in­clude a “Con­necti­cut Un­der­ground” squad, although the league’s web­site does not spec­ify where the team would play.

FFL of­fi­cials have not yet an­nounced de­tails about their league’s launch date or game sched­ul­ing. League in­vestors in­clude for­mer NFL stars Jeff Gar­cia, Ter­rell Owens, Simeon Rice and Ricky Wil­liams.

Some short-lived foot­ball teams out­side the NFL have played in Con­necti­cut. The United Foot­ball League’s Hart­ford Colo­nials lasted only one sea­son in 2010.

XFL and FFL are plan­ning their launches at a time when the NFL still gen­er­ates huge TV au­di­ences, but also faces grow­ing chal­lenges. Stam­ford-based NBC Sports Group’s Sun­day Night Foot­ball’s view­er­ship dropped 10 per­cent in the 2017 NFL reg­u­lar sea­son, but it still fin­ished as the No. 1 prime­time show for a record sev­enth-straight year.

So far in the 2018 sea­son, SNF has av­er­aged 19.8 mil­lion view­ers, a 7 per­cent year-over-year in­crease.

XFL will aim to im­prove on its first run, which lasted only one sea­son. An es­ti­mated 14 mil­lion peo­ple watched the 2001 opener of the XFL — which was broad­cast by NBC — but rat­ings soon tum­bled.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.