After nearly three decades after going under, being nothing more than a public afterthought, an old and cherished name in the industry has reentered the fray of football: The United States Football League.
Like the XFL, the USFL is an anomaly among the multitude of spring leagues today in the sense that, unlike their competitors, they attempted to directly compete and take down the industry hegemon, the NFL.
Competition between the two leagues eventually deteriorated into direct conflict when in 1986, the struggling USFL filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, claiming that it had established a monopoly. The lawsuit was a desperate, last ditch effort to keep the league afloat. After a trial of 42 days, the jury ruled that while the NFL was indeed a monopoly, most of the USFL’s issues resulted from its own mismanagement.
Notorious Damages Awarded
Of the $567 million the USFL was looking for in damages, which would have been tripled under the antitrust law to $1.7 billion, the USFL in turn was rewarded a check worth a whopping…one dollar. In fact, the amount won was three dollars and seventy-six cents; the one dollar being tripled under the antitrust law and the additional amount coming from inflation accumulated during litigation; a true game changer. Unsurprisingly, after staking the entire future of the league on the lawsuit, the USFL was forced to cease operations shortly afterwards, condemned to obscurity in the public mind. The USFL has yet to cash in their check.
Unexpected Return of the USFL
That was until June 3, 2021, when to everybody’s surprise, the United States Football League announced its return. It was unanticipated, unexpected, but certainly welcomed. Returning in the spring of 2022, the USFL is going to need as much support and as many fans as they can get. St. Louis can offer that support. Here are three reasons why St. Louis is the perfect market for the USFL:
1. Market Size:
St. Louis has historically been one of America’s most influential cities. It’s found itself home to the Olympics, the World Fair, and is one of the nation’s most iconic skylines with its most cherished landmark, the St. Louis Arch. There was even a movement, though unsuccessful, to move the nation’s capital to the Gateway City. A respectable 20th place nationwide, the St. Louis metropolitan area accommodates nearly 3 million people and is continually growing. The St. Louis metropolitan area is home to more people than Baltimore and Charlotte, and is significantly larger than Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Nashville and Jacksonville, all cities with NFL teams. Currently with no NFL team of its own and with only the XFL to compete with, St. Louis is practically an untapped goldmine for a fledgling football league.
Despite having the 20th largest metropolitan area in America, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking St. Louis was significantly larger considering its local sports attendance. The St. Louis Cardinals consistently post the second-best attendance in the MLB, and though the Blues were 14th overall among NHL teams as of 2019, it’s simply due to the team’s undersized venue. A certain NFL owner insisted that St. Louis is not a football city. That man is a liar. St. Louis demonstrated a level of support unparalleled among the XFL’s hosting cities, and is most certainly ready to through their support behind any team that supports them back.
3. The Dome:
If The Dome at America’s Center isn’t an NFL caliber stadium, it’s certainly close to being one. Finished in 1995 and renovated in 2010, the BattleDome, as local fans call it, is a 67,277-capacity stadium situated at the heart of downtown St. Louis. Hosting prominent events including the NCAA Final Four in 2005 and a Real Madrid-Inter Milan soccer match in 2013, the BattleDome is an ideal and enviable venue for any upstart league looking to tap into the local market. As seen by the early weeks of last year’s XFL, St. Louis was certainly capable of filling the dome’s lower bowl, and by the look of ticket sales for the cancelled game in Week 7, the upper bowl as well, making the 60,000+ seats the league would be paying for well worth the investment.
BONUS idea: The USFL needs to cash in that check. That would be some good publicity.
So, what do you think? Is St. Louis an ideal market for the up-and-coming USFL? Share your thoughts below join the conversation on Discord.