Minor Leagues

A weekly sports column for the 100 Mile Free Press

Two new professional American football leagues plan on the beginning play in 2019 and 2020. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) and a revival of the doomed 2001 XFL league have announced their intentions and will have different rules than the established NFL.

Both leagues will only have eight teams each but where they will be located is still unclear.

In 2020, the two new leagues will come in direct competition with each other but will not compete against the NFL, starting a week after the Superbowl.

The original XFL had four of its eight teams in NFL markets, representing the Chicago, New York/New Jersey, San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. The proposed revival league’s founder, Vince McMahon, announced that he wanted the potential team to play in existing NFL markets but declined to say which ones in separate interviews with local media outlets in Orlando, San Diego and Pittsburgh. The league’s website also doesn’t have any information in regards to teams other than saying cities will be selected over the coming months and will be a mix of major and mid-major markets.

The AAF doesn’t have any teams announced either.

Hopefully, the AAF has the sense to have their teams outside of NFL territories.

Professional minor leagues in the North American sports landscape have trouble surviving for more than five years and most of them who have teams in big markets are no exception. If they don’t fold, they end up relocating them before the league as a whole ends operations.

The United Football League, for instance, ran from 2009-2012 and began with four teams, two of them in San Francisco and in East Rutherford, N.J. (where the New York Giants and Jets of the NFL play), called the California Redwoods and the New York Colonials. Both ended up relocating before the second season to Sacremento and Hartford, Conn. and had total rebrands.

Overall, the league ended up folding due to financial losses between $120 and $150 million and a plan to share sells to public never materialized.

More than a dozen minor professional hockey leagues have started since the 1980s and only two of them (not associated with the NHL organization structure) have survived, (The Federal Hockey League and the Southern Professional Hockey League), 14 others failed.

It is definitely interesting to see how these two football leagues fare, I wouldn’t expect much out of it.

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