Reported XFL and USFL merger may not save springtime football, San Antonio expert says

The XFL, which includes the San Antonio Brahmas, lost $60 million this past season, according to league owner Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.

click to enlarge XFL League owners Dany Garcia (left) and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (right) award the championship trophy to the Arlington Renegades at the Alamodome on May 13. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
XFL League owners Dany Garcia (left) and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (right) award the championship trophy to the Arlington Renegades at the Alamodome on May 13.
The XFL and USFL leagues are in advanced merger talks, Axios reports — a transaction that could keep semi-pro springtime football, including the San Antonio Brahmas, alive in the short term.

Even so, such a marriage may do little but prolong the inevitable demise of both leagues, one local expert said.

"My point of view is that I don't see the XFL lasting very long," Ricard Jensen, a senior sports marketing lecturer at the University of Texas San Antonio, told the Current earlier this summer. "The only thing that might work is for there to be some type of merger with the USFL. But, even then, it would be tough for that new league to go ahead and make it."

The XFL and USFL are hoping to complete their nuptials prior to the start of their 2024 seasons, with an agreement possibly finalized later this week, Axios reports, citing three sources familiar with the talks.

Word of a possible merger comes months after XFL's owner, Hollwood actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, told Forbes that despite the league's $60 million loss last season, he's in it for the long haul.

"This is not just an endeavor that's going to fill up a portfolio, and one day we flip it, and we're out," Johnson said in June. "This is legacy. This is the long game."

Both the XFL and USFL reported meager game attendance. The XFL's championship game hosted at San Antonio's Alamodome drew just 22,754 fans, and only 1.4 million watched on TV.  In contrast, UTSA Football's home games last season drew an average of 28,917 fans, while 113.06 million tuned in for Super Bowl LVII.

There's a chance the merged leagues would focus on large markets without an NFL team, meaning San Antonio's Brahmas could survive the transition. However, Jensen says that it's not the markets that are the issue but the talent semi-pro sports leagues are able to put on the field.

"The challenge facing leagues like the XFL and USFL is that we live in a country that's used to having professional sports leagues with the best athletes in the world," Jensen said. "Despite what leagues like the XFL says, if their rosters are full of people that we haven't heard of, they're clearly not NFL quality, or maybe they're washed-up NFL players, people just aren't going to be lining up to cheer for that."

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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