April Fool? Hardly.
It is April Fool’s Day and there is an old proverb that claims a fool and his money are soon parted. No one thinks Vince McMahon is a fool, but there is another old saying that goes something like this. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times, shame on both of us. McMahon has just put more money into his planned football league, the XFL, and the news comes as the Alliance of American Football is struggling to remain solvent. McMahon sold about four percent of his World Wrestling Entertainment stock for a reported $272 million and that money will be invested into the new football business. It is estimated that McMahon in total has sold $400 million of his WWE stock to finance the XFL. The XFL is going after the same players that the AAF wanted. The AAF almost folded in February. Unless McMahon is reinventing the wheel, the XFL is not going to be offering a product that differs much from the AAF. His league will feature players looking for a second or third or fourth chance at making a National Football League roster.
The AAF’s plan was to bring football to smaller cities. Neither Atlanta nor the Phoenix area, two of the AAF’s bigger markets seem too interested in the product based on attendance. San Antonio has been getting decent sized crowds, Orlando and San Diego have attracted limited interest. Memphis, Birmingham and Salt Lake City have not done well. The AAF TV ratings are adequate but there is not much TV money going into the product. Vince McMahon plans to try bigger cities, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Washington, Seattle, Tampa and one non NFL city, St. Louis. It is going to be a struggle. Spring football’s window of opportunity to succeed closed in 1985.