To the thunderous cheering of 27,000 fans, the long awaited “Alliance of American Football” kicked off its opening game in a matchup between the visiting San Diego Fleet and the hometown heroes, the San Antonio Commanders. For a fledgling league, this crowd was absolutely massive, and the attendance figure posted that night surpassed that of any other team—not just for that week, but for the whole season. San Antonio’s fans were eager for a great football game and they did not go home disappointed, the home team pulling through with flashes of defensive prowess and a hearty supply of field goals.
The Commanders beat the Fleet 15-6. Despite this promising start for the seemingly up-and-coming AAF, the league went under after a mere eight weeks. Now without a football team, this ravenous market is ripe for the taking. With the XFL returning in 2022, I think it would be in the best interests of a league trying to find its footing to remember this great, historic city and relocate one of its teams to San Antonio.
Here are three reasons why:
A large and passionate fanbase
Calling the 7th largest city in America home in the flourishing metropolis of San Antonio, the Commanders found overwhelming support for their team during the AAF’s unexpectedly brief existence. As San Antonio is ranked third nationally in terms of population growth since 2010 while simultaneously experiencing solid economic growth, this should be expected. Their average home attendance of nearly 28,000 fans is impressive on its own, but even more so when compared to the rest of the League. The Orlando Apollos, the team with the second-most prominent fanbase, posted an average home attendance figure of only about 20,000. The Salt Lake Stallions posted an abysmal 9,000 fan average for attendance, hosting a game in Week 6 of the AAF with only 8,000 fans present. Like they did with the Commanders in 2019, fans in San Antonio have consistently shown support for their only professional sports team, the NBA’s Spurs, consistently packing their stadium to cheer on their beloved players. The San Antonio market can clearly support an additional team, and with local fans having a clear affinity for football, it only seems logical that the XFL should take advantage of the potential found in the city’s fanbase.
Location and venue
Situated at the fringe of downtown San Antonio, the Alamodome is a 64,000 seat multi-purposed dome, which throughout its extensive history, has hosted innumerable teams from a vast collection of leagues and even sports. The venue had seen basketball, football, soccer, and even baseball. Such teams include the Spurs, who the stadium was built for, the New Orleans Saints, who briefly called the Alamodome home following the disastrous Hurricane Katrina, the Talons and the Texans, teams respectively from the AFL and the CFL gone kaput, and many more. Along with placating the demands from the Spurs, the Alamodome was intended to attract a professional football franchise, and as such is more than capable of hosting a football team. The size of the stadium is ideal as local fans are more than capable of filling up its seats, and the Alamodome’s centralized location makes accessibility little to no problem. For the needs of a football team, the Alamodome is optimized in regards to generating revenue and convenience.
Some existing teams are in satiated markets
Like any other business, the XFL needs revenue, and it needs it badly. Unlike established leagues like the NFL, the XFL walks a thin line, where failure to turn a profit could have catastrophic implications for the league. To ensure the prosperity and continued existence of spring football, I believe it would be in the best interest of the XFL to relocate one of their struggling franchises to a more lucrative market, specifically San Antonio. Like certain teams in the AAF, the XFL also had teams with attendance problems. Two teams had an average home attendance of under 15,000 fans, Los Angeles and New York. Likely due to an over saturation of football in both cities, the Wildcats and the Guardians had a noticeable emptiness in their stands, especially as the season carried by. While the XFL is preparing for their upcoming season, when nothing is set in stone, it would be wise to relocate one of their more unpopular teams to a market like San Antonio, with its great fans and support for football.