A few weeks ago, there was the announcement that the XFL would return in 2020.
This week, we learned that a new league, the Alliance of American Football, plans to begin play in 11 months.
We don’t know much about the leagues, save for a few rules and policies that will differentiate them from the NFL. We don’t even know where the teams would play.
We do know that the leagues aren’t considered direct competitors to the NFL, so it stands to reason that NFL owners wouldn’t be strongly opposed to other leagues taking root in their cities.
However, in an era of decreasing interest in football and in-person attendance being replaced by watching on TV, how much would these new leagues consider other markets that lack an NFL team
Enter San Antonio. The Alamo City has everything an upstart league would want from a host city.
For one, the Alamodome is good enough to host the NCAA’s Final Four, so it’s definitely good enough for any professional football league.
The leagues will play in the NFL’s off-season, starting after the Super Bowl. That means regular-season games in February and March, likely ruling out many cold-weather cities. So even if the Alamodome isn’t available for a full slate of home games, the region could look to outdoor stadiums at UIW, Texas State, or even Austin. Central and South Texas have the weather and interest to support following a team and, of course, tailgating for a spring football team.
Texas has the reputation of football being like a religion. The Cowboys and Texans occupy the state's attention on Sundays in the fall, with Fridays and Saturdays belonging to high schools and colleges, respectively. But without any football from mid-February to August, there's a void that the football-hungry state could fill, and San Antonio is uniquely positioned as the biggest city in Texas without an NFL team.
Of the two leagues, the Alliance of American Football seems like a better option for San Antonio than the XFL. For one, the AAF starts in 2019, while XFL fans will have to wait until 2020. According to an ESPN report, Charlie Ebersol of the AAF is viewing the league as a seven-to-10-year investment. The league already has a media plan and several investors lined up. Meanwhile, the XFL has the shadow of its previous one-year run looming and no other investors or media plan.
The next detail of the Alliance of American Football’s plan is vague right now but could work in San Antonio’s favor. In three months, the eight teams will be announced and hold a regional draft to protect eligible players who played at nearby colleges. Which colleges are considered “local” to San Antonio and other markets could go a long way in determining which cities are chosen and how competitive those teams will be. If a San Antonio team can build around former college players from Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas Tech who aren’t in the NFL, there’s a deep talent pool around which to build a team.
Until the locations of the 16 new teams in the two leagues are announced, though, there’s little football fans in Texas can do but wait and hope. In the meantime, here are some more facts we know about the XFL and AAF.
The American Alliance of Football:
- 50 players per roster, 8 teams, 10 games each
- Will have no TV timeouts and 60 percent fewer commercials.
- The first game and championship game will air on CBS
- One game per week will air on CBS Sports Network
- Live games on the league’s app will incorporate fantasy football
- Kickoffs will be replaced by the ball being automatically placed at the 25-yard line
- Onside kicks will be replaced by 4th-and-10 at the 35-yard line
- Play clocks will be 30 seconds
- No PAT kicks, every touchdown will be followed by a two-point conversion try
- Player contracts will contain an “out” if a player gets the opportunity to go to the NFL.
- 40 players per roster, 8 teams, 10 games each
- Will not have cheerleaders
- Will not hire players with arrest records
- Kneeling for the national anthem will be forbidden
- Teams are still “far away” from being announced, but the original XFL 17 years ago had teams in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco, Memphis, Las Vegas, Orlando and Birmingham, Ala.