Could the XFL return to Chicago in 2021?
|Monday, March 30, 2020, 10:42 AM- -|
Despite the inaugural reboot of the XFL being cut short due to COVID 19, it was still a successful reincarnation that should only get better with time. Looking to the future, 2021, for that matter, as the XFL is planning to expand from eight teams to 10 teams one year ahead of time.
With so many cities vying for either an NFL or XFL franchise, there appears to be two front runners as to who will get the next group of XFL teams. Atlanta is on the shortlist as well as our city of Chicago as the XFL may be returning to the Windy City after a 20-year absence.
Make no mistake about it, Chicago is a sports town that has a rich history despite many struggles along the way. You had the Bulls six titles in the 1990s, the Blackhawks run of dominance in the late 2000’s to early 2010s, even both the White Sox and Cubs have won world series titles over the past 20 years.
Despite the rich and successful sports history, Football has been the one sport longing from the longest title drought despite having plenty of successful teams of their own. Could another football team be added to the equation to bring home another title to Chicago? Taking a long look at history, it seems very likely that another Windy City team will be in the fold next year.
Football history in Chicago goes back 100 years as the Chicago Cardinals were the first franchise in the Windy City making a home from 1920-1959. Despite the Bears who started in 1919, the Cardinals were the original Chicago team as the Bears started in Decatur, Illinois. The Cardinals had some success during their existence, winning two titles but had a terrible time looking to relocate in the 1950’s forcing them to fade out complete while leaving the Bears the lone Chicago football franchise to that point.
That is when the Bears began to take center stage as they did their best to relive their previous dynasty, but couldn’t put anything together until winning the Superbowl against the Patriots in 1985. Before that Superbowl run, another Chicago team made a brief appearance in the Chicago Blitz from 1982-1984.
Belonging to the USFL, the Blitz was one of the 12 charter franchises. In their first season, they would tie the Michigan Panthers for the division, but it would eventually be given to the Panthers who went on to play in the Championship game. Even though the Blitz were considered a strong team that was thought to be able to compete with NFL teams, they struggled out the gate to bring fans in averaging just over 18K per game.
The Blitz would make the playoffs in their first year of existence but would blow a 21-point lead against the Philadelphia Stars, eventually falling 44-38 in OT. In the 1983 offseason, Blitz owner Ted Diethrich would look to sell the team and under a new coach in 1984 would go 5-7 as the league folded with four games left in the second season leading to the Bears lone existence once again.
The Bears would headline the football world in the City of Chicago until 2001 when the original version of the XFL came calling bringing in the Chicago Enforcers. Initially, former Bears great Dick Butkus was supposed to be the head coach, but he backed out before the start of the season, turning things over to Ron Meyer. The Enforcers would make the playoffs that season going 5-5 but would lose to the LA Extreme 33-16 in the conference semi-finals.
Much like the Blitz, the Enforcers had a tough time drawing fans in the seats, but that could have been mainly due to the renovations going on at Soldier Field during that time, which had the XFL looking to move the team to Milwaukee before they folded following that first season. Once again, the Bears were on their own headlining the City of Chicago as they returned to the Superbowl a few years later only to lose to Peyton Manning and the Colts.
Now with the XFL back on full go, it appears the Bears won’t be alone in Chicago for much longer as it looks like the XFL will be back in Chicago once again. Despite Chicago having their fair share of teams besides the Bears since the early 1900s, it does make sense as to why the XFL would want to come back to the Windy City once again.
Some have had success in their first seasons, and some have had not, but when you are in one of the three biggest markets in the United States, any sports organization would be foolish not to try and get in on it. Given the way the XFL was built the first time around, the overall interest and the fact that the Bears haven’t been the franchise they once were for many decades, all point to the fact that Chicago is in line for a new expansion team.
Given that attendance is also a big concern for new teams, where would this team play? Chicago does have plenty of venues to choose from. Still, I think it is safe to rule out Wrigley Field and Soldier Field among those locations, which leaves the most likely landing spot in my opinion of Seat Geek Stadium in Bridgeport, former home of the Chicago Fire.
As we have seen in the second installment of the XFL, more and more teams have started to utilize soccer-specific stadiums instead of NFL stadiums. It would be beneficial for an XFL expansion franchise in Chicago to follow that trend and go to bring that stadium back to life. If they can amount to any sort of marginal success out of the gate, the XFL could provide Chicago with a new football team they could get behind during the offseason of the NFL.