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Best of 2018, #6: New Spring Pro Football Leagues Unveiled

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We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Football Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #6: The announced return of spring pro football… times two.

The return of the XFL! The AAF! Football stadiums that have sat dormant during the spring and summer months will be open for business soon enough. Vince McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment, LLC, announced in January that the XFL would relaunch in 2020, followed by Charlie Ebersol, Bill Polian, Jared Allen, Justin Tuck and Troy Polamalu announcing the creation of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) two months later, slated to kick off as soon as a week following the Super Bowl in 2019.

The AAF, understandably, was the first to begin announcing venues, beginning with Atlanta, featuring offensive coordinator Michael Vick, with Georgia State Stadium – the former Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves – serving as its home turf. An Arizona-based franchise was announced in May, its home games to be held at Sun Devil Stadium, the current home of Arizona State University football and the previous host of the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals from 1988-2005 as well as Super Bowl XXX, which is currently in the midst of a major renovation

In late June, with Orlando’s lease officially approved to play at Spectrum Stadium, the home for UCF football, all was fully revealed: franchises in San Antonio, to play at the Alamodome; Birmingham, at historic Legion Field, which dates to 1927; Salt Lake, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic opening and closing ceremonies; Memphis, at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the 1997 home of the Tennessee Oilers; and San Diego, at SDCCU Stadium, which hosted three Super Bowls and was the longtime home of the San Diego Padres and San Diego Chargers.

As it happens, both Birmingham’s Legion Field and Memphis’s Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium previously hosted an XFL franchise during the league’s first iteration in 2001.

With one year longer in which to prepare for football, it was not until late in 2018 that we learned of the XFL’s cities and venues. Four teams, interestingly, will play at current NFL stadiums, with New York at MetLife Stadium, home of the Giants and Jets; Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers; Seattle at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seahawks; and Los Angeles at StubHub Center, the current home of the Chargers, though they are moving to Inglewood in 2020.

The others: St. Louis at The Dome at America’s Center, the former home of the transplanted St. Louis Rams, which has not hosted a professional game since 2015; Dallas at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers through the end of the 2019 season; Washington at Audi Field, which was built for MLS’s D.C. United as a soccer-specific stadium; and Houston at TDECU Stadium, home of the University of Houston football team.

How will the new spring pro football leagues fare? We’ll find out as soon as February 9.

Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date:

Best of 2018, #7: End Zone Development in College Stadiums

Best of 2018, #8: Ravens Continue M&T Bank Stadium Upgrades

Best of 2018, #9: Shad Khan’s Wembley Stadium Offer Stalls

Best of 2018, #10: University of South Alabama’s New Stadium Moves Forward

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August Publications