Thursday, December 5, 2013

Past spring football leagues had mostly strong followings in A11FL states

The A11 Football League will kick off its first full season in March of 2015.

It will be at that time that the A11FL will continue – and build upon – the strong tradition of spring outdoor professional football leagues past.

The A11FL already has announced that charter teams will be in the following states – California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York/New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. And in those states, previous spring football leagues have had mostly strong home crowds:

The United States Football League, the grandfather of the spring outdoor professional football genre, saw nine instances over three seasons (1983-85) in which a team averaged more than 35,000 fans per home game. Of those nine instances, seven (1984 Jacksonville Bulls, 46,730; 1984 Tampa Bay Bandits, 46,158; 1985 Bandits, 45,220; 1985 Bulls, 44,325; 1985 New Jersey Generals, 41,268; 1983 Bandits, 39,896 and 1984 Generals, 37,716) came in states where the A11FL will have teams beginning in 2015.

In addition, the two neutral-site USFL Championship Games played in A11FL states were well-attended – in 1984 (52,662 in Tampa, Florida) and 1985 (49,263 in The Meadowlands, New Jersey).

The World League of American Football had a two-year run (1991-92) with teams in the United States, as well as Canada and Europe. It had four teams in states where the A11FL will have teams in 2015 – the New York/New Jersey Knights, Orlando Thunder, Sacramento Surge and San Antonio Riders. The Knights averaged 32,322 and 25,982 fans per game, respectively; the Thunder 19,018 and 16,523; the Surge 17,994 and 20,557 and the Riders 14,853 and 13,308.

The 1991 playoff game at The Meadowlands had 23,149 fans in attendance, and the two 1992 playoff games in A11FL states (23,640 in Sacramento, and 28,746 in Orlando) both had more fans on hand than that.

The XFL had just one season in 2001 – and it was just as much about bluster and bombast as it was about football. But while television ratings plummeted after its much-ballyhooed inaugural games, attendance league-wide was steady at 23,410 during the regular season. And the top four teams in terms of regular-season average home attendance – the San Francisco Demons (35,005), New York/New Jersey Hitmen (28,309), Orlando Rage (25,563) and Los Angeles Xtreme (22,679) – were based in three of the A11FL’s charter states.

And even as beat-down as the XFL was by the end of its only season – by pundits and fans alike – it drew 24,153 fans in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for “The Million Dollar Game,” the league’s only championship game.

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