The XFL Wrote the Playbook on Post-COVID Sports Without Knowing It

The XFL Wrote the Playbook on Post-COVID Sports Without Knowing It

2020 has been a whirlwind of crazy events since the new decade kicked off a little over six months ago. What started out as a year of excitement with the XFL returning, quickly turned south as the world dealt with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The league that showed the world that spring football could work was forced to suspend the season halfway through and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy shortly after.

Since then, a lot has happened. The sports world is currently engaged in working towards bringing live sports back to the airwaves. At the same time, the XFL is currently vetting potential buyers to acquire the league in an upcoming bankruptcy auction. At the time of publication there are roughly 30 different parties interested in the league, with hopes of a 2021 season. Seems quite advantageous, but the XFL has a trick up their sleeve; they unknowingly created the playbook on a Post-COVID sports world.

Let’s go back to January of this year, which at this point feels like it was ages ago. The XFL, on the verge of its 2020 return, brought all eight franchises to Houston to conduct their inaugural training camp. The XFL’s training camp took place January 4-22 and each franchise had their own practice facility within Harris County.

  • Dallas Renegades – Darrell Tully Stadium
  • DC Defenders – Rice Stadium
  • Houston Roughnecks – TDECU Stadium
  • Los Angeles Wildcats – Alex Durley Stadium
  • New York Guardians – Husky Stadium
  • St. Louis BattleHawks – W.W. Thorne Stadium
  • Seattle Dragons – Delmar Stadium
  • Tampa Bay Vipers – George Turner Stadium

Nearly 1,000 players, coaches, staff, game officials and production teams from FOX Sports and ESPN, all traveled to Houston for nearly three weeks of training and operations.

The XFL committed to more than 10,000 room nights for players and staff who planned to consume more than 60,000 meals during their time in Houston. According to the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority, the XFL training camps were expected to generate in excess of $7,000,000 of revenue for Harris County.

All executives, coaches, players and television partners in one central location. Sound familiar? Well, if the first thing that came to mind is the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS all attempting to do the same for their return; then you’re spot on.

NBA and MLS have both settled on utilizing ESPN’s Wide of Sports Complex out of Orlando as their home base for their return. NHL and MLB have similar plans, but no dates set and in MLB’s case no guarantee of a return.

As mentioned above, the XFL is currently working towards their bankruptcy auction scheduled for August of this year. The league currently has roughly 30 interested parties and it sounds like a good number of them are more than capable to continue running the XFL.

The model that has been proposed to potential bidders for 2021 would be a TV-centered 12-week tournament, with or without fans, based out of a central location. This was first discovered on May 25th via XFL Bankruptcy filings, which was the first we learned that the league would be attempting a 2021 return.

The Debtor has modeled for 2021 a “made-for-TV,” 12-week tournament-style approach to its business. The XFL is also well positioned to, if necessary, deliver a crowd-free experience that could thrive in the current environment, given the XFL’s existing innovations such as in-game audio from players and coaches and live on-screen sports wagering information.”

This approach has many up-sides for new management. The first, and maybe the largest, is the amount of money the league/new owners will save by housing all players, coaches and staff in one location. That means no flights between games, no multi-building leases, etc… Additionally, the XFL will be able to (hopefully) run a safe operation and limit the spread of COVID between it’s players and others.

Regardless how you look at it, the XFL is leaning on their strengths. If a sale is made, the new owners still have a long road to a 2021 season. The idea would be to kickoff the weekend after the Super Bowl. With the Auction set to be finalized August 7th, that leaves the XFL’s new owners roughly six months to hire coaches, executives, staff and players.

As of now, no location has been discussed… but we do know that University of Houston has agreed to honor the TDECU Stadium rental agreement that was in place for the Roughnecks. This allows the lease to be apart of the assets the buyer would receive upon acquiring the XFL through bankruptcy. We also know that league representatives have reached out to the cities of Seattle and St. Louis as well. Will the 2021 season be based out of one of these cities? Hard to say. There have been other locations rumored as well, but we’ll let you know when more information comes out on this.

Although 2021 seems to focused on playing in once location, the league hopes to return back to home markets for a 2022 season. It’s still hard to say if the XFL will return; and if it does how it will return and where. If they can pull off a 2021 season, it seems they have the skills at their disposal to pull it off.

Do you think the XFL will return? If so, do you think they can pull off a 2021 season or wait until 2022? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.

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