A Renegade Football League
Though it has become apparent that it’s pretty tough to succeed with a U.S. football league not called the NFL (or college football), I still think it’s fun to consider a renegade league. You know, when it’s not my finances on the line. Below is an idea of what my renegade league would look like …
Columbus (OH) Tigers
Grand Rapids Colonials
Hartford Charter Oaks
Louisville Breckenridges (Brecks)
Primary Rivalry Games: MIL vs. GR, LOU vs. COL, ROC vs. HFD
Primary Rivalry Games: ORL vs. BRM, GRN vs. RD, RIC vs. NOR
Jackson (MS) Generals
Oklahoma (City) Outlaws
Primary Rivalry Games: MEM vs. ARK, BIR vs. SHR, OK vs. OMA
Las Vegas Stars
Salt Lake Gulls
San Antonio Wings
Primary Rivalry Games: ABQ vs. SA, LV vs. SLC, PRT vs. SAC
Firstly, I wouldn’t have ANY franchises in cities that already have NFL franchises. I don’t care how many people live in said city. Chicagoans, for example, are simply not going to pay attention to a new pro team not called the Chicago Bears. End of story.
A league would have to exist in the largest of the U.S. cities without franchises, and whenever possible should focus on cities that are geographically farthest from the NFL franchised cities.
Secondly, I think this league would have to rely on grassroots growth vs. lucrative broadcast deals that would likely not come for a long time for the startup. The best way to do that? Focus on the fan experience at the games themselves and on integration within the cities chosen to have franchises.
Have you ever been to a minor league game in any sport that is played in a big league team’s stadium? It’s absolutely depressing. Even when a decent sheer number of fans are in attendance, they are spread out and accentuate vacant seats — the place FEELS empty. A startup league shouldn’t be delusional and think it is going to draw 40,000+ people to a game. It’s just not going to happen. Stadiums need to have capacities between 8,000 – 15,000 like most AAA baseball stadiums. This would allow for a more intimate game watching experience.
I think the NFL has gotten to the point where it is a better experience to watch the game at home on television than it is to see in person. Tickets are hard to come by at face value — fans wind up having to shell out twice as much to some scumbag scalping company. Concessions are obscene. Traffic getting to and from monolith stadiums on the outskirts of the cities is invariably terrible.
A startup league should use this as a point of differential. Tailgating needs to be promoted and accommodated for as much as possible, and on site concessions need to be priced more affordably. Each team’s playing field should exist within its city’s limits and coexist harmoniously within its urban area. Further, the perimeters of the stadium properties need to not only be thought of as active on game days. Restaurants and bars that help accommodate tailgaters should be open year round to help keep the stadium grounds be a constant destination. Green spaces need to be prominent parts of the plans to avoid endless parking lot eyesores.
Thirdly, an upstart league like this should play the vast majority of its games within its divisions. It would save on travel costs, help establish regional rivalries and generate increased interest in the unknown matchup of the eventual championship game. I’m thinking a 12-game regular season — each team plays the other teams within its division twice (covering 10 games), with two games each season against two different interconference opponents.
As noted in the divisional breakdowns above, there will be an established primary rivalry game within each division. I think it would help the upstart league if each primary rivalry game was played on the same week — like a sweeps week — twice per season. For casual fans who are open to familiarizing themselves with the league, these two sweeps weeks become the most compelling weeks to watch.
Lastly, each franchise should incorporate as many players from regional universities as possible. It gives the local fan base another reason to feel invested in its team.
And although I don’t think this league can bank on having any kind of big broadcast deal, it would still be smart to ensure the markets in which it will be present are set up as solid TV markets.
|TEAM||CITY||METRO POP||METRO POP RANK||TV MARKET||TV MARKET RANK|
|Orlando Renegades||FL, Orlando||2.32 mil||26||1.473 mil||18|
|Sacramento Capitols||CA, Sacramento||2.24 mil||27||1.346 mil||20|
|Portland Loggers||OR, Portland||2.35 mil||24||1.154 mil||23|
|Raleigh-Durham Aeros||NC, Raleigh-Durham||1.24 mil||46||1.136 mil||25|
|Hartford Charter Oaks||CT, Hartford||1.21 mil||47||0.945 mil||30|
|Columbus Tigers||OH, Columbus||1.99 mil||32||0.914 mil||32|
|San Antonio Wings||TX, San Antonio||2.33 mil||25||0.912 mil||33|
|Salt Lake Gulls||UT, Salt Lake City||1.15 mil||48||0.897 mil||34|
|Milwaukee Badgers||WI, Milwaukee||1.57 mil||39||0.882 mil||35|
|Greenville Rabbits||SC, Greenville||0.86 mil||63||0.842 mil||37|
|Grand Rapids Colonials||MI, Grand Rapids||1.03 mil||52||0.718 mil||41|
|Las Vegas Stars||NV, Las Vegas||2.07 mil||30||0.719 mil||41|
|Norfolk Neptunes||VA, Norfolk||1.72 mil||37||0.714 mil||42|
|Birmingham Americans||AL, Birmingham||1.14 mil||49||0.710 mil||43|
|Oklahoma Outlaws||OK, Oklahoma City||1.34 mil||42||0.704 mil||44|
|Albuquerque Wolves||NM, Albuquerque||0.90 mil||59||0.679 mil||47|
|Louisville Brecks||KY, Louisville||1.27 mil||43||0.657 mil||49|
|Memphis Bulldogs||TN, Memphis||1.34 mil||41||0.654 mil||50|
|Arkansas Miners||AR, Little Rock||0.73 mil||75||0.555 mil||56|
|Richmond Rebels||VA, Richmond||1.26 mil||44||0.549 mil||57|
|Omaha Mustangs||NE, Omaha||0.90 mil||60||0.413 mil||74|
|Rochester Jeffersons||NY, Rochester||1.08 mil||51||0.393 mil||78|
|Shreveport Steamers||LA, Shreveport||0.45 mil||114||0.368 mil||83|
|Jackson Generals||MS, Jackson||0.58 mil||93||0.320 mil||95|
The following are some of the notable alternative failed professional football leagues in the U.S. You’ll notice I plucked quite a few of the better team names. I think it’s nice to have somewhat of an historical reference for a franchise whenever possible.
Continental Football League (1965-1969)
Akron Vulcans, Alabama Hawks, Arkansas Diamonds, Brooklyn Dodgers, Charleston Rockets, Chicago Owls, Dallas Rockets, Eugene Bombers, Fort Wayne Warriors, Fort Worth Braves, Hartford Charter Oaks, Indianapolis Capitols*, Jersey Jays, Las Vegas Cowboys, Long Beach Admirals, Mexico Golden Aztecs, Michigan Arrows, Montreal Beavers, Newark Bears, Norfolk Neptunes, Oklahoma Thunderbirds, Oklahoma City Plainsmen, Omaha Mustangs, Orange County Ramblers, Orlando Panthers, Philadelphia Bulldogs, Providence/Rhode Island Indians, Quad Cities Raiders, Richmond Rebels, Sacramento Buccaneers/Capitols, San Antonio Toros, San Jose Apaches, Seattle Rangers*, Spokane Shockers, Springfield Acorns, Texarkana Titans, Toronto Rifles, Tri-City Apollos, Victoria Steelers, West Texas Rufneks, Wheeling/Ohio Valley Ironmen
World Football League (1974-1975)
Birmingham Americans/Vulcans, Chicago Fire/Winds, Detroit Wheels, Washington-Baltimore/Virginia Ambassadors, Florida Blazers, San Antonio Wings, The Hawaiians, Houston Texans, Shreveport Steamer, Jacksonville Sharks/Express*, Memphis Southmen/Grizzlies, Boston Bulls, New York Stars, Charlotte Stars*, Philadelphia Bell, Portland Storm/Thunder, Southern California Sun
Arizona Wranglers/Outlaws*, Birmingham Stallions, Boston/New Orleans/Portland Breakers, Chicago Blitz, Denver Gold, Houston Gamblers, Jacksonville Bulls*, Los Angeles Express, Memphis Showboats, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, Oakland Invaders*, Oklahoma Outlaws, Philadelphia/Baltimore* Stars, Pittsburgh Maulers, San Antonio Gunslingers, Tampa Bay Bandits, Washington Federals, Orlando Renegades
Birmingham Thunderbolts, Chicago Enforcers, Las Vegas Outlaws, Los Angeles Xtreme*, Memphis Maniax, New York/New Jersey Hitmen, Orlando Rage, San Francisco Demons
United Football League (2009-2012)
Florida Tuskers, Hartford Colonials, Las Vegas Locomotives, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions, Virginia Destroyers
BOLD = NFL also has a franchise in that city
*Note: No NFL team existed in these cities at the time of league existence, despite these cities later gaining NFL franchises.