Stamford, CT – The XFL has suspended 2020 operations and laid off nearly all of its staff for the second time in the league’s history. The 2001 venture of the league’s existence also folded after just one season.
The league canceled its season after playing just five weeks of a planned 10-game schedule due to the nationwide shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The XFL was owned by WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment, who was making a second attempt at professional football. McMahon approached this second try much different, asking Commissioner Oliver Luck to create a serious football league that would market a new version of the game while avoiding direct competition with the NFL.
Luck led a group of staffers through two years of product development, establishing a series of innovations – from its new kickoff alignment to its three-tiered extra point structure – that caught the eye of multiple members of the NFL competition committee.
All eight of the teams were centrally owned and operated by the league (as opposed to the franchise model, with each team having different ownership groups). The league was split into two divisions with each team scheduled to play all three opponents in their division twice, once each of home and road. Each team was to play the remaining teams from the other division once. The XFL East included New York, Washington D.C., Tampa, and St. Louis, while the XFL West was made up of Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston.
The league received mostly positive reviews up until its shut down. Viewership averaged about 1.4 million and had the support of sports broadcast staples ESPN and Fox networks. The XFL is the second spring football league to suspend operations before completing its season, but for much different reasons. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) ran out of money in 2019 and shut down operations after eight weeks of play.
The XFL fell prey to the coronavirus with no resuscitation planned. The league’s next move will likely involve the courts in a bankruptcy filing and hearing.