The A11 Football League continues to show steady progress in building toward its inaugural season, and two key developments have emerged from that progress.
Today, the A11FL is announcing that it has completed television negotiations, and will have a national TV deal. Details of that deal will be announced in the near future. The league also is announcing today the 12 finalists for the eight charter markets to begin play in March of 2015.
“We said that when we would make our next announcement to our fan base, we wanted to do it with something of substance,” said A11FL Chief Executive Officer/Commissioner Scott McKibben. “Thanks to the completion of national television negotiations, and the narrowing of the choices of our target charter markets, we are that much closer to that announcement and the official kickoff of the league.”
The finalists are, in alphabetical order:
- Chicago, Illinois
- Dallas, Texas
- Denver, Colorado
- Detroit, Michigan
- Los Angeles, California
- New York, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Phoenix, Arizona
- San Antonio, Texas
- San Francisco, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Tampa, Florida
Of those 12 finalists, five or six are termed as “solid,” and the other two or three markets will come from the other finalists. Final market selections will be determined by stadium/venue availability, television market size and time zone, history of fan support and investor/community interest.
Chicago has had two previous spring outdoor football league teams – the Blitz in the United States Football League (1983-84) and the Enforcers in the XFL (2001). A team in the third-ranked television market in the country most likely would play at Soldier Field, where both the Blitz and the Enforcers called home.
Dallas didn’t have a team in the USFL or XFL, and only had the 11th practice “Team Dallas” for two years (1991-92) in the World League of American Football. A team in the fifth-ranked TV market in the United States has some options as to where home might be, including AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington and the Cotton Bowl.
Denver’s spring outdoor football history consists of the USFL’s Gold from 1983-85, which boasted strong attendance figures until that league announced its move to a fall schedule, which would have resulted in a direct fight with the National Football League’s Broncos. The stadium for a team in the 17th-ranked TV market in the country would have to be Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Detroit had a highly-successful spring outdoor football team in the USFL’s Michigan Panthers, which won the initial USFL title in 1983 and made the playoffs again in 1984. The 11th-ranked TV market in the country also was rumored to be an XFL expansion site, had the league continued after just one season. A Detroit squad could play at either Ford Field or The Silverdome in nearby Pontiac.
Los Angeles has seen some high-profile spring outdoor football action over the years – from a rookie quarterback named Steve Young playing for the USFL’s Express (1984-85) to the Xtreme winning the XFL’s only championship. The second-highest-ranked TV market in the USA could have a team either at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the cozier StubHub Center.
The New York City metro area has had a team in all three previous spring outdoor pro leagues – the New Jersey Generals (USFL, 1983-85), the New York/New Jersey Knights (1991-92) and the New York/New Jersey Hitmen (XFL, 2001). All three teams in the largest media market in the country played at Giants Stadium, and a possible A11FL New York metro team most likely would play at MetLife Stadium in nearby East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Philadelphia was home to the quintessential spring pro football franchise, the USFL’s Stars (1983-84), which played in the first USFL championship game in 1983 and won the league title in 1984. The country’s fourth-largest TV market has both Lincoln Financial Field and Franklin Field as potential landing spots for a Philadelphia A11FL team.
Phoenix’s last foray into the spring pro football genre was three decades ago, when it had the Arizona Wranglers (1983-84) and Arizona Outlaws (1985). The 12th-ranked TV market in the country has both University of Phoenix Stadium, and Sun Devil Stadium in nearby Tempe.
San Antonio has had two previous spring pro football franchises – the USFL’s Gunslingers (1984-85) and WLAF’s Riders (1991-92). The best option for a potential A11FL team in the country’s 36th-ranked television market is the Alamodome, which last saw extensive pro football use in 2005 when the NFL’s New Orleans Saints were displaced due to Hurricane Katrina.
San Francisco has had just one previous spring pro football team, the XFL’s Demons in 2001. The Demons easily outpaced the rest of the XFL in average home attendance at 35,005 per home game at then-Pacific Bell Park. A San Fran A11FL team could play at now-AT&T Park, but also could find a home at Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara, which will be the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers’ home field starting next year.
If Seattle is chosen for an A11FL charter franchise, it will be the first time the city has played host to a spring outdoor pro football team. The 13th-ranked television market in the country, Seattle has one venue which makes sense for a possible new team – CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL’s Seahawks and Major League Soccer’s Sounders.
Tampa was home to one of the more highly-recognizable spring outdoor pro football franchises – the Steve Spurrier-led Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL (1983-85). The Tampa-St. Petersburg market has two potential viable venues – Raymond James Stadium in Tampa and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.