TDECU Stadium at the University of Houston will be the home field for Houston’s team in the XFL, the spring football league owned by WWE chairman Vince McMahon that will begin play in 2020, the league announced Wednesday.
Joining Houston among the eight XFL charter cities are teams in Dallas-Fort Worth, playing at Arlington’s Globe Life Stadium, plus Los Angeles (StubHub Center), New York-New Jersey (MetLife Stadium), St. Louis (The Dome at America’s Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium) and Washington, D.C. (Audi Field).
Houston’s team has yet to be named, but the announcement signals a return to the city’s football heyday of the 1980s, when the upstart USFL’s Houston Gamblers shared the pro football landscape with the established Oilers, much as the XFL now will do with the Texans.
Coincidentally, the announcement of Houston’s XFL selection came from the league’s president, Oliver Luck, who was a quarterback for the Oilers during the Gamblers’ 1984-85 run at the Astrodome.
“We believe the Houston-Harris County area is a fantastic place for one of our franchises, given the deep love and passion that people here have for football at all levels,” Luck said in an interview prior to Wednesday’s announcement.
“It was a pretty easy decision to place a franchise in Houston.”
Houston will be in the XFL’s Western Division with Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Seattle. New York, Tampa, St. Louis and Washington will comprise the Eastern Division. Teams will play a 10-game regular season, followed by two semifinals and a championship game.
Teams will have 45-man rosters with seven-member practice squads. A centralized “Team Nine” of players under contract to the league will be available to replenish rosters as needed.
While Luck did not offer details, he said the XFL continues with what he described as a “reimagining” of football as it awaits its 2020 debut.
“We’re looking at some of the administrative rules of the game – time outs and other things – and at what technology can do to improve and enhance the game,” he said.
“Our goal is to have a fast-paced, high-octane game with less down time – less stall and more ball. It will be a rock-’em, sock-’em, 11-on-11 game.”
The new XFL, league officials have said, aims to offer an alternative to fans disenchanted with the increased length of NFL games and the social activism of some of its players. Games will last under three hours, and the league has said that anthem protests will not be allowed.
Yeah, I’m not going to support that. If you want a different option, there’s yet another league in the pipeline, and San Antonio is a charter member. There will be more than one way to get your extra football fix.