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What Could an XFL/CFL Co-Op Mean for Football Destinations?

26 Apr, 2021

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Just as March got underway, the rumblings began of the potential for the XFL and the CFL to work together.

But honestly, outside of a few headlines here and there, not much registered on the USA’s football-related Richter Scale – something that is likely attributable to the fact that fans in the U.S. have become jaded about additional leagues, having seen the demise of Major League Football, Arena Football, the Pac Pro League and numerous others

As the blog, PopCulture noted:According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, both leagues are in talks to play an interleague championship game. This would happen after the leagues complete their respective seasons and determine champions. It's also possible that teams from both leagues could play each other during the regular season. McCarthy wrote who also mentioned an All-Star Game could be played between the two leagues. Ultimately, the long-term objective is the merge both the XFL and the CFL.

A benefit that could enhance revenues could do nothing but assist each league, both of which will need to make money quickly if they are to survive.

XFL co-owners Dany Garcia and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and RedBird Capital, and Jeffrey Pollack, President and CEO, purchased the XFL out of bankruptcy for $15 million last year. The league was brought back by Vince McMahon in February 2020 but called off the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The XFL has eight teams: Dallas Renegades, DC Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, New York Guardians, St. Louis BattleHawks, Seattle Dragons and Tampa Bay Vipers.

The CFL has been around since 1958 and features nine teams: Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Redblacks, Toronto Argonauts, BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Football Team, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The 2020 season was cancelled – another casualty of COVID and the XFL Newsroom notes that the league is postponing the start of its 2021 season. Presently, the CFL is targeting a return-to-play on August 5, with the Grey Cup being pushed out until December 12th. The league is looking to facilitate a 14-game season, but that could change if the start date changes again.

Some pundits, including Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press, think the collaboration between the CFL and XFL is dependent on the ability of both leagues to host a 2021 season.

“If the CFL doesn’t get back to playing football this year, there could be no future partnership with the XFL to explore,” Ralph wrote. “The CFL’s top priority should be a return to play in 2021 because there are very serious and genuine concerns about the league’s ability to survive if it’s forced to cancel a second straight campaign.”

The CFL reportedly lost between $60 and $80 million last year after the Canadian government turned down a request for a $30 million interest-free loan. And, Ralph adds, “They’ll lose millions more if any kind of season is played in 2021. CFL officials are adamant the the league will see action this year, and we’re hopeful that they’re right. With the news of a potential partnership with the XFL, there’s more eyes than ever on the CFL. If the league can manage to make to the field and allow limited-fans, I think the league is set to see record ratings.”

If both leagues can kick off successfully and if spectators can be allowed into the stands, spring football might just be the draw some destinations need to regain much-needed economic impact. The XFL’s business model – situating its teams in markets where there is a ready-made football fanbase courtesy of the NFL – could bring in sports-starved fans and help cities make up for lost time.

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