By: Jordan Kendall, Sports Editor
The XFL has had a strong first two weeks, with attendance and TV ratings both impressive. It seems that the football community has been satisfied with the league so far, which is a good sign going forward. I have enjoyed watching the league, but instead of telling you why, I want to give a different take. Here is what I think the XFL needs to do to remain relevant going forward.
Of the eight teams in the XFL, four are playing in stadiums with 40,000 or fewer seats. The other four share with their NFL counterparts. Despite the difference in stadium size, the overall attendance was about the same on average in week one and I think it’s one thing the XFL should change. The XFL attendance in week one was over 17,000 at each of the four stadiums where games were played.
For Audi Field with a 20,000 seat capacity that’s nearly a sellout and looks great on TV to see full stands. For MetLife Stadium that holds 82,500 fans, that’s about 20% of the stadium. The same number of fans, but one looks better than the other. I feel the XFL should have games in smaller stadiums that can sell out until they can prove the league can fill a 60,000-plus seat stadium.
The New York Guardians are not the New York Jets or Giants as far as popularity, so why not have them play in Red Bull Arena in New Jersey? If you want to convince fans the XFL is legit, 17,000 fans in a 25,000 seat stadium will more likely do so. It’s never going to be the NFL, and this would be one way of embracing it. The fans would be closer to the action and provide a unique home field advantage.
Don’t get the big name players, at least not yet
The XFL doesn’t have big name players yet, the most notable to football fans is probably D.C. Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones. He is well known for his success at Ohio State and is trying to return to the NFL. Because the XFL will never be the NFL, I don’t think they necessarily need to compete. I think this also means they don’t need to sign big name players. If they sign someone like wide receiver Antonio Brown or quarterback Colin Kaepernick they will have to pay a lot more than what they are to any current player. The XFL is reported to have enough money for three seasons, I don’t think that would be true by paying $25-30 million a season to one player. The initial interest would quickly fade away, and I don’t think the TV revenue and tickets could compensate for the paycheck a top player would demand.
The players in the XFL right now are all trying to either reach the NFL or return to the league. I think the XFL should accept the idea that they serve a specific purpose, and they should thrive on it. Perhaps in the future, they can partner with the NFL and become a feeder or minor league, but for now, they should focus on what they are as a league currently. After this season a few players will likely sign with NFL teams, and they can use this as marketing for what the league is capable of. As long as the actual football remains competitive and entertaining, the play should speak for itself. With the rule changes such as the kickoff rule and extra point system, I think fans will remain interested if the league continues to try and evolve the game.
This is the XFL
The AAF taught me to not put too much faith into a new football league. I’m going to remain patient before putting my full trust into this league. But the direction the XFL is heading seems promising. It seems that everyone involved wants the league to succeed and wants to provide fans with entertaining and intriguing football. However, no new football leagues have succeeded in the last 50 years for more than a few seasons, the NFL still holds a monopoly and it won’t go away soon. I think the XFL has a great platform and opportunity to succeed, but it has some things to improve on to do so.