XFL attendance in Arlington debut drops nearly 30 percent from 2020 opener

Vegas Vipers v Arlington Renegades
Getty Images

The XFL returned this weekend, for the third time ever and the second time in three years. And while the partnership with, and relentless promotion from, ESPN and ABC should result in solid viewership numbers, there’s a separate question regarding attendance at games.

It’s been a chronic issue for all of the alternate leagues. Even if people watch on TV (and they do), it’s a challenge to get them to go watch the games in person.

The USFL in 2022 had an enhanced degree of difficulty, since all games were played in Birmingham. The XFL plays its games in the eight cities its franchises represent. And the initial attendance figures from Saturday show that there’s room for improvement.

Via the Dallas Morning News, courtesy of Sports Business Journal, the Arlington Renegades drew 12,047 to the home opener against the Vegas Vipers. That reflected a drop of nearly 30 percent from the crowd of more than 17,000 that showed up to see the same team in the same stadium for its XFL 2.0 opener.

The other Saturday game, played in Houston between the Roughnecks and the Orlando Guardians, drew 12,784.

Again, ticket sales will be a small part of the overall viability puzzle. The third iteration of the XFL will rise or die based on people watching the games.

Of course, it’s easier to get more people to tune in and to stay tuned in if the TV images show robust crowds. That’s always been a point of emphasis for the NFL, as evidenced by a rule that blacked out games in the local markets if sufficient tickets weren’t sold in advance. Crowded venues make the games seem bigger and more compelling, with the other side of the coin also being true — the games can feel like not a big deal if no one is there watching them happen.

It will take time and patience and cash. That’s something recent attempts at a spring league haven’t had, from the AAF (which had unexpected funding issues) to XFL 2.0 (which fell victim to the pandemic). The USFL 2.0 and the XFL 3.0 seem to be prepared to give their experiments time to take root, with real strategies for controlling costs and enhancing profit.

Still, one of the keys to making one of these leagues flourish will be to get asses in the seats, even if it means giving tickets away for free and making money from parking, concessions, and merchandise.

11 responses to “XFL attendance in Arlington debut drops nearly 30 percent from 2020 opener

  1. Maybe in (sigh) “Arlington” and Las Vegas they’re used to NFL teams playing. You have to figure St. Louis, Orlando, and San Antonio might care a little more. I understand you have to go where the people & stadium infrastructure is, but I live in a city where I think people would be more receptive to minor league football than NFL home bases.

  2. Keep talking about how much different the XFL is than the NFL, and viewership will continue to drop. In case you haven’t noticed, NFL football is by far the most watched thing on TV. I’m waiting for the USFL to start. That’s going to be a good league.

  3. One of the problems is that on the website the DC team for the premier seats in the venue we’re charging $180 I’m sorry but if you’re an upstart league you shouldn’t charge $180 for any seat in the building I would charge a maximum of $75 for a premier seats and then the rest of the seats in the building I would have at $15. Not all the teams in the XFL in the USFL are able to rent the type of venue that the DC team rented but that’s the precise size they should be shooting for, it look good on TV having a sold out crowd even if it was only 20,000 people. When you have 12,000 in a 50,000 seat baseball stadium it doesn’t look good. The Arlington team should use SMU’s stadium. Until they can get people to come they should rent smaller stadiums.

  4. You know the conventional wisdom that says ‘Americans have an insatiable desire for football’? What if it turns out that isn’t true?

    Maybe we don’t need another pro football network. Maybe we don’t need the NFL on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturday. Maybe ubiquity is not a good thing.

  5. They start too soon. No one can convince their family to watch football, bad football too, right after watching the playoffs for 4 weeks. Start it in the late spring when people miss football.

  6. The fact that over 12,000 people paid money to attend an XFL game in the Greater Dallas area just shows that that there are about 12 people there that don’t have a life.

    There had to be something better to do on a Saturday.

  7. Why doesn’t the NFL just do their own version of minor league football? Following my team’s baseball prospects through the minors is fun.

    Get rid of the 4 years from high school requirement, start drafting 18 year olds, and move them up to the show when they’re ready.

  8. It’s a hard to watch this. Gave it the 1 half and I was done. Anyone else that keeps watching this is probably just a degenerate gambler.

  9. correction to my post above….

    The fact that over 12,000 people paid money to attend an XFL game in the Greater Dallas area just shows that that there are about 12,000 people there that don’t have a life.

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