Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018
Sport

The XFL announces its arrival in Washington and the commissioner of the league is "delighted"


D.C. United will share Audi Field with the XFL franchise in Washington from the spring of 2020. (John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

The XFL announced Wednesday the eight cities, including Washington, which will host franchises during the revival of the league in February 2020.

The league, which resumes operations after a failed season in 2001, will play teams in or around Dallas (Globe Life Park), Houston (TDECU Stadium), Los Angeles (StubHub Center), St. Louis (Dome at America & # 39). Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium) and the District (Audi Field).

Oliver Luck, commissioner and CEO of the league, said the XFL had issued a request for proposals in May and had heard about 30 cities interested. This list has been reduced to around 18 during the summer and fall.

The league hopes to be able to name coaches, team nicknames, logos and colors in the first quarter of next year. He added that each team would probably sign a quarterback by the summer of next year. Teams will feature alignments of 40 people and players will be signed for contracts throughout the year, with average salaries of about $ 75,000.

"It's a start-up, of course. And [pro wrestling magnate] Vince [McMahon] has made a substantial commitment in terms of capital that he will put in the league, "said Luck in an interview. "We have financial plans, budgets for a period of five years. I think you really have to have several years to know if it works. "

"I know we're fighting history up to a point when you look at all the alternative leagues that have existed. But I think we have a great opportunity to stay long, very long. "

McMahon, founder and CEO of WWE for the XFL, has relied heavily on the showbiz surge to market the league as a football extension of its successful wrestling brand. A dull product on the ground and falling television ratings forced the league to cease operations after one season. This time, the league distanced itself from the WWE and opted for a more patient and refined approach to building its brand, according to Luck.

"There will be relatively little in common with XFL 2001," said Luck. "I'll be the first to admit that the quality of the 2001 game was not what it needed to be. . . . We have the advantage of being able to really ramp up during the calendar year 2019 and to be able to get out of the chasm in 2020 by playing quality and quality football. "

Luck has stated that the XFL will be particularly interested in players released by NFL teams in early September. The league will hold a draft in the summer or early fall of 2019.

"Hundreds of players are banned every year from NFL teams," said Luck. "September 1 is the big deadline, I think last year, more than 900 players were released from the NFL alignments while they had gone from 90 to 53. plan to invite these players to try for the XFL We're going to do reconnaissance, we're going to do minicamps, we're going to have local trials. "

News from the eight host cities was leaked Friday when it was posted early on the XFL website; the position was then removed.

Luck said the XFL was focusing on the district because of its location, the region's enthusiasm for the sport and the opportunity to compete in a new stadium. The news announced on Friday that the league would include a franchise from the D.C. that will play its home games at the Audi Field, which opened in July in southwest Washington as the new headquarters of D.C. United. League officials are always looking for a permanent headquarters and a training venue for the Washington franchise.

"I like the idea [of] to play in this beautiful new building located in a beautiful area of ​​the city that changes rapidly, "said Luck about Audi Field. "That made me really happy for Washington. I think it will be great to be in a building where you can literally hear the quarter 's call signals. It's a little different from – I've been to FedEx [Field] many times – but it's a different experience. I think people will really enjoy it. "

Luck said the XFL had signed a multi-year deal with United to use the stadium. Chris Hull, D.C. United's Senior Advisor for Communications and Commercial Operations, said team officials hoped the stadium could be active 200 days a year. Washington's XFL team will play at least five games at the Audi Field in 2020, according to Hull, who described the stadium as "one of North America's iconic and outstanding venues."

D.C. United will join eight MLS teams that share a local stadium with professional or university football teams, which could present logistical challenges during weeks of overlapping franchise activities.

"Obviously, you know that there are schedules, wear on the ground, that sort of thing," Luck said. "But in the end, both parties decided that it was really the place to do it."

The XFL franchise will join the DDC market already flooded with professional sports teams and become Washington's third professional football team, joining the NFL Redskins and the Valor of the Arena Football League.

Luck said the league is not aiming to be a temporary tenant at Audi Field.

"We love professional sports in this country. We love university sport in this country. I tend to think that the rising tide lifts all boats, "said Luck," and passionate football fans of the Red Crescent, whether they are professionals or academics, will no doubt have an interest in the XFL. "

In addition, the Alliance of American Football, founded by Charlie Ebersol, son of former NBC leader Dick Ebersol, who helped launch the XFL with McMahon, will begin in February 2019 with teams based in Atlanta, Birmingham, Alabama, Memphis, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego.

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