XFL 2023 city and location capsules

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On Sunday night, the XFL officially revealed the eight cities and venues (well, seven venues) the league will play in in 2023. Here’s some brief, relevant information on each:

Choctaw Stadium, Arlington.

Arlington

Location: Choctaw Stadium

Capacity (for football): 37,000

Other tenants: North Texas Soccer Club (MLS Next Pro); Dallas Jackals (Major League Rugby)

History: Choctaw Stadium, then known as Globe Life Park, was home to the Dallas Renegades in XFL 2020. The rebranding from Dallas to Arlington, where Choctaw Stadium actually resides, is an interesting, albeit more accurate, nomenclature. Dallas certainly carries more cache than Arlington as a major city. The Renegades have hosted three home games in 2020, averaging 17,163 fans, good for fourth place in the eight-team league.

TDECU Stadium, Houston
TDECU Stadium, Houston

Houston

Venue: TDECU Stadium

Capacity (for football): About 40,000

Other tenants: University of Houston (college football)

History: Houston and TDECU Stadium are another pair returning from XFL 2020. There have only been two home games for the team in 2020, and they have averaged 18,320 par. Minor league football is no stranger to Houston: The Gamblers played in the original USFL for two seasons in 1984 and 1985. Houston is the only city that crosses over into the current USFL and XFL, although the current Gamblers , like all other USFL teams, played their regular season games in Birmingham in 2022. The Houston Stallions of the Lone Star Football League (2011-2012) and the Houston ThunderBears of the Arena Football League (1996-2001) are some of the minor league teams that have taken up residence in Houston over the past three decades. Houston is one of four XFL franchises that will play in a city that also has an NFL team.

Vegas

Location: to be determined

Capacity (for football): TBA

Other tenants: to be determined

History: The very first XFL game was held in Las Vegas in 2001 at Sam Boyd Stadium. When the league relaunched in 2020, Vegas didn’t get a franchise. But for 2023, they are back. In 2001, the Outlaws averaged 22,619 fans, which would have been good for third place in 2020, but were fifth among eight teams two decades ago. The NFL Raiders recently moved from Oakland to Vegas, so the XFL is trying to capitalize on the city’s appetite for the sport.

Besides the Outlaws, the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League (2009–2012) and the Outlaws of the Arena Football League (2015) are recent examples of minor league football in the city. The Locomotives also played at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Outlaws were the AFL’s second foray into Vegas: the Las Vegas Sting were in the league in 1994 and 1995. When the Canadian Football League briefly expanded into the United States, Las Vegas had one team – the Posse – for the 1994 season. In short: Vegas has always been a breeding ground for alternative football leagues.

As for where the team will play in 2022, as coach Rod Woodson’s coordinators, is yet to be announced. The all-new Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders call home, is an option. Sam Boyd Stadium is dormant and probably no longer a realistic possibility due to its age. The T-Mobile Arena may not have the number of seats the league wants, nor does the MGM Grand Garden Arena or the Thomas & Mack Center.

Camping World Stadium, Orlando
Camping World Stadium, Orlando

Orlando

Location: Camping World Stadium

Capacity (for football): 60,219

Other tenants: Citrus Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl (college football)

History: The XFL passed up a return to Tampa Bay and will instead head across the state to Orlando. It’s another throwback to 2001, at the same location where the Rage played (the stadium was then known as the Citrus Bowl). Orlando was third in 2001 with 25,563 attendance per game, more than 10,000 more fans than Tampa Bay’s average for the XFL in 2020. The risk of running a stadium the size of Camping World is the same as that of the management of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa: That a large stadium would seem almost empty even if it drew a decent crowd. It’s important to note that we don’t yet know what the capacity for XFL games will be – they won’t open all 60,000 seats at this stadium or some of the other biggest in the league.

Camping World Stadium was built in the 1930s and has hosted at least nine other professional football teams, including the UFL’s Florida Tuskers (2009-2010), the USFL’s Orlando Renegades (1985) and the Orlando Thunder of the World. American Football League (1991-1992). None of the nine teams lasted more than five years. The AAF’s Orlando Apollos, second in the league in attendance in 2019 with 19,648 for three home dates, played at the University of Central Florida.

The Alamodome.  San Antonio
The Alamodome. San Antonio

San Antonio

Location: The Alamodome

Capacity (for football): 64,000

Other tenants: Alamo Bowl and University of Texas-El Paso (college football)

History: XFL 2023 spoofed the AAF’s top two attending teams of 2019 in Orlando and San Antonio. The Commanders were by far at the top of the league with an average attendance of 27,721 in four home games, more than 8,000 more than second-placed Orlando. It’s clear that San Antonio is hungry for professional football. Commanders also played in the Alamodome.

But the Commanders aren’t the only alternative pro football league to call the Alamodome home. The same was true for the San Antonio Texans of the CFL (1995) and the San Antonio Talons of the AFL (2012-2014). Unlike most other American CFL teams, the Texans’ attendance of 15,000 spectators was considered decent. The inner atmosphere that helped make St. Louis legendary in the 2020 XFL season could give the San Antonio team the same boost in 2023.

The America's Center dome, St. Louis
The America’s Center dome, St. Louis

Saint Louis

Location: The Dome at America’s Center

Capacity (for football): 67,277

Other tenants: None

History: St. Louis was a no-brainer in terms of franchises to bring back from the 2020 season: They led the league in attendance, averaging 28,541 for two dates, and there was talk of topping 40,000 in future games. Clearly stung by the St. Louis Rams’ loss to Los Angeles five years prior, St. Louis aimed to show that they were a major league professional soccer city. Consider this mission accomplished. Like most cities, St. Louis also had an AFL team, the Stampede, in 1995–96.

The Dome at America’s Center was the XFL’s only indoor stadium in 2020, which helped provide a unique experience for viewers both in-game and on television. Although the Dome at America’s Center currently has no permanent tenants, it hosts many concerts and special sporting events like football games and professional wrestling. It is also attached to the America’s Center convention center.

Lumen Field, Seattle
Lumen Field, Seattle

Seattle

Location: Lumen Field

Capacity (for football): 37,722 (XFL 2020); 68,740 (NFL)

Other tenants: Seattle Seahawks (NFL); Seattle Sounders (MLS); OL Reign (NWSL)

History: Lumen Field is the only 2023 XFL stadium that will be a shared NFL/XFL setting (pending Las Vegas decision). The Dragons played there in 2020 when it was called CenturyLink Field. Seattle finished second in the league with an average two-game attendance of 25,616. Seattle NFL fans are known to be loud, making their stadium one of the loudest in the league. The hope is that this attitude will continue in the XFL.

Seattle doesn’t have a long professional football history outside of the Seahawks: The Seattle Timberwolves only existed for one season in 2011 in the Indoor Football League, playing in Kent, Washington.

Audi Field, Washington DC
Audi Field, Washington DC

washington d.c.

Location: Audi Field

Capacity (for football): 20,000

Other tenants: DC United (MLS); Spirit of Washington (NWSL)

History: The fifth of five venues returning to XFL 2023, Audi Field is the smallest of the league’s eight stadiums, built for its football occupants. In three home games in 2020, the Defenders averaged 16,179 fans, good for fifth in the league. The smaller stadium provides fans with a more intimate environment, which worked well in 2020. Additionally, the XFL had to return to the home of the legendary Beer Snake.

The city’s branding as Washington, DC is different from the strict reference as DC in 2020. We’ll see if that sticks. The Washington Valor was an AFL team that played from 2017 to 2019 at the city’s Capital One Arena. Prior to that, the Washington Commandos played in the AFL in its early days, in 1987 and 1990. The DC Armor played one season in the American Indoor Football Association in 2009.

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