You know, some say Canton is Ohio’s East Rutherford.
The USFL’s New Jersey Generals are on their way. But they’ll still be a long way from the Garden State. FOX-owned operations announced Wednesday that the Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers will be based in Ohio for the second season of the revived Spring League.
The USFL played its entire 2022 regular season in Birmingham, Alabama and then held the playoffs in Canton, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It appears there will be four hubs this season. Canton joins Birmingham (hometown of the Stallions and New Orleans Breakers) and Memphis (hometown of the Showboats and Houston Gamblers).
The league has yet to announce where the other two teams — the Michigan Panthers and the Philadelphia Stars — will be based. Both regions were previously reported as hub city candidates. Logic would suggest Detroit — more specifically, the nearby Ypsilanti campus in eastern Michigan — wins the deal. Because if Philly was the choice, wouldn’t the generals go there?
The USFL plans to eventually have its teams play in their host cities. And the growth from a regular season center in Year 1 to three or four in Year 2 certainly backs up that claim. However, we remain convinced that the Generals in New Jersey — or anywhere in the region — will never play a snap until they actually do.
Trying to do spring football here is a waste of time. The all-new XFL – set to be relaunched in a matter of weeks – finally learned that lesson and brought it to market after failing to gain traction from the Hitmen and Guardians. And the generals made no apparent effort to generate local enthusiasm or interest. So why would it make economic sense to try to force a team into MetLife Stadium (or Red Bull Arena or Rutgers or Montclair State)? Of course not.
Also, don’t lose sight of what the USFL is: The Spring League, spruced up with a brilliant marketing gimmick and better TV coverage. It’s cheap programming with the nostalgia of the original USFL mixed in. Of course, if there is no risk, you will name one of the teams after the one that once belonged to Donald Trump.
But once there? It’s time to dust off the intellectual property of Chicago Blitz or Denver Gold or Los Angeles Express. They already walked this path when the Tampa Bay Bandits became the Showboats overnight. Also, FOX will only levitate this thing for so long. Especially if the XFL — which seems to have a lot more vision behind it — thrives.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Jameskratch.