COVID-19 forced the the newly revived XFL football league to end its very first season in March, just halfway through the ten-game schedule. Now, it seems the league may not be coming back.
The league suspended operations and fired nearly its entire staff Friday morning, with no plans to return in 2021, ESPN reports.
The L.A. Wildcats were one of eight teams in the league, and briefly played home games at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. Just days ago, an update on the Wildcats’ site said, “The Los Angeles Wildcats would like to thank our fans for their amazing support during our first season…This isn’t a goodbye, it’s a see you later. We’ll see you again!” It included a link to the following tweet:
When the league terminated its 2020 season in the face of the rapidly spreading pandemic, it assured fans that it would be back next year, but XFL CEO Jeffrey Pollack reportedly informed employees otherwise during a ten-minute conference call today.
Although Pollack didn’t explicitly state that the league was going out of business, a former XFL member who was on the call tells ESPN that the message was clear. “It’s done,” the staffer said. “It’s not coming back.”
Owned by WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, this is the second time the raucous wrestling boss has tried to make the spring football league work. His 2001 shot at a successful XFL, featuring pro-wrestling-type antics, convicted felons, and very enthusiastic cheerleaders, proved to be a colossal failure, shutting down after one year.
The reanimated XFL was designed to be more NFL than WWE, without cheerleaders, criminals, or preplanned “works” in stadium hallways. It seemed to be sort of working.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the league was averaging just above 18,000 fans per game in attendance, while the four season openers brought in about 3.1 million TV viewers, though by the final games on March 7 and 8 that number had dropped to 1.16 million.
L.A.’s team got off to a slow start, but didn’t completely suck. Former Green Bay Packers associate coach Winston Moss led the Los Angeles Wildcats to a 2-3 record at the halfway mark. The Wildcats won two home games against the Tampa Bay Vipers and DC Defenders, suffered one home loss to the Dallas Renegades, and got beaten at both of their away games by the New York Guardians and the Houston Roughnecks.
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