Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Austin has its Longhorns, but can it support outdoor spring pro football?

Austin, Texas, is a football haven in the middle of a football haven.

Everyone knows how much Texans love their football. And Austin is no exception – the University of Texas annually is among the most well-supported college football programs in the country.

In 2012, the Longhorns drew the fourth-most fans per home game among Football Bowl Subdivision programs, averaging 100,884 fans for games at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. In 2011, Texas ranked fifth in FBS (100,524 average), as it did in 2010 (100,654 average).

Also, the 10 largest crowds to see football at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (capacity 100,119) all have been posted since 2009.

The bottom line is this – football fans in and around Austin love their Longhorns. So having a rabid fan base would be the least of Austin’s problems if there was interest in placing a spring alternative outdoor professional football league team there.

Also, Austin’s market size (45th in the country, according to Nielsen) wouldn’t be prohibitive, since markets such as Memphis (49th) and Jacksonville (50th) have been very good spring football supporters in the past.

Austin, however, never has had a spring alternative outdoor pro football league team in any of the three previous major incarnations – the United States Football League, the World League of American Football and the XFL. And while Austin is one of the top “untapped markets” in the genre, there is no indication that Austin wants or would support a spring professional league.

BOTTOM LINE – Austin would be a very intriguing spring alternative outdoor pro football market if the support could be mustered. A team could be very successful if it had just a fraction of the success the Longhorns have.

Again, trying to play in a college football stadium has its obstacles, such as needing University approval to play in such a college-driven stadium/city, alcohol sales, etc. But if those obstacles were to be overcome, an Austin-based pro team could be a winner.

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