What is one of the few similarities among all of the major spring outdoor alternative professional football leagues in the last 30 years?
They all had a team in the New York metropolitan area. And why not? New York is the No. 1 media market in the United States, so it would be a natural for any new league to want to play in or around New York.
East Rutherford, New Jersey, has been the home of the United States Football League’s New Jersey Generals, the World League of American Football’s New York/New Jersey Knights and the XFL’s New York/New Jersey Hitmen. All three of those teams played in the now-demolished Giants Stadium.
The Generals ended the USFL’s run in the mid-1980s with three of the league’s top 11 all-time single-season attendance figures. The best of those years was in 1985, when rookie quarterback Doug Flutie and star running back Herschel Walker helped New Jersey draw an average of 41,268 fans per game – sixth-best in league history.
In 1991, the Knights, despite getting off to an 0-3 start, drew an average of more than 32,000 per home game. In 1992, that figure was nearly 26,000 per contest despite an 0-4 start.
And the Hitmen finished second in the XFL in average home attendance at 28,309 – quite a feat given that the team began its brief existence with one win in its first five games.
These days, the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets play their home games at MetLife Stadium, a new state-of-the-art stadium which has been open since 2010 and has a capacity of 82,500. It will be the site of the NFL’s first-ever outdoor cold-weather Super Bowl on February 2, 2014.
BOTTOM LINE – It’s no secret that past major spring outdoor alternative pro football leagues have wanted teams in the New York metro area in order to help secure television deals and more national fan interest. And MetLife Stadium is a venue any new football league would love to have one of its franchises play in. Not only would market size and a new stadium help East Rutherford’s cause, but the history of the New York metro area supporting its major spring outdoor alternative pro football teams would make it an attractive locale, as well.