We have our first sports league shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic: After only five weeks of play the XFL has shut down and released almost all employees, with no plans to return for 2021.
The second iteration of Vince McMahon’s vision for spring football, the XFL launched with plenty of publicity and what seemed to be a smart business plan for what’s essentially minor-league football: payrolls were low, specific kinds of sponsors (i.e., gambling firms) were recruited, and existing NFL venues were largely shunned in favor of smaller MLS stadiums, a reconfigured MLB ballpark and a university football stadium. It was successful in a few markets–St. Louis and Seattle–while struggling in New York and Los Angeles, the two media centers of the United States business world.
Employees were paid through Sunday, which would have been the end of the ten-week XFL regular season.
Technically, the XFL has not announced a total shutdown of operations, with a few league employees hanging on. But given that the coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly changing the way fans interact at sporting events — in ways we don’t yet know — it’s not hard to see that there are no plans for the XFL in 2021.