I’ll never understand why some football fans — the same ones who crave college football Saturdays and can’t look away on NFL Sundays — criticize seeing MORE football on television. Even before the XFL’s inaugural season began, people were quick to dismiss a league funded by billionaire WWE CEO and Chairman Vince McMahon as another flop. This isn’t original XFL, and it’s definitely not the Alliance of American Football. Where the AAF failed, the XFL is looking to blossom.
Getting butts in the seats is the name of the game. For the XFL to sustain its innovations and rule changes, the league has to, first and foremost, convince fans and sponsors that the league is worth watching. Thanks to early MVP candidates like Cardale Jones of the DC Defenders and P.J. Walker of the Houston Roughnecks, games are getting more competitive and exciting as these rosters get comfortable with the new, fast-paced style.
For an initial comparison, the AAF’s attendance numbers looked incredible thanks to 57,033 total fans attending the first two San Antonio Commanders home games. After 78,000-plus attended the four AAF games in Week 2, and the Commanders went on the road in Week 3, overall attendance plummeted to just 56,312 people. One week later, it was at 38,327. I think you can guess what happened next.
Naturally, heading into Week One of the XFL regular season, no one was sure what to expect in these first games. But on-field interviews, unprecedented access to hear coaches interacting with players, and the reemergence of college football stars long forgotten drove at least 17,000 fans to every home game for Week 1.
XFL Attendance Week 1: 69,818
- Los Angeles Wildcats at Houston Roughnecks — 17,815
- Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders — 17,163
- Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians — 17,634
- St. Louis Battlehawks at Dallas Renegades — 17,206
Underwear-clad streakers and trick play touchdowns provided the juice the league needed in Week 1 to carry that momentum into the XFL 2020’s second week, cracking 70,000 total fans in attendance for XFL games thanks to a record turnout for Seattle’s home opener.
XFL Attendance Week 2: 76,285
- New York Guardians at DC Defenders — 15,031
- Tampa Bay Vipers at Seattle Dragons — 29,172
- Dallas Renegades at LA Wildcats — 14,979
- St. Louis Battlehawks at Houston Roughnecks — 17,103
Week 3 in the XFL brought our first kickoff return for a touchdown, continued dominance by the Houston Roughnecks, and a league-high 39 points by the Los Angeles Wildcats and quarterback Josh Johnson in the team’s first win. Even better news is that attendance went up for the third-straight week.
XFL Attendance Week 3: 81,942
- Houston Roughnecks at Tampa Bay Vipers — 18,117
- Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons — 22,060
- New York Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks — 29,554
- DC Defenders at Los Angeles Wildcats — 12,211
It took four weeks, but attendance finally dropped with the XFL moving into Week 4. While the Battle of Texas between Dallas and Houston saw an increase from Globe Life Park’s first showing, massive dropoffss in New York and Tampa Bay forced weekly averages to decline.
XFL Attendance Week 4: 70,204
- Los Angeles Wildcats at New York Guardians — 12,116
- Seattle Dragons at St. Louis Battlehawks — 27,527
- Houston Roughnecks at Dallas Renegades — 18,322
- DC Defenders at Tampa Bay Vipers — 12,249
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Football is football, and XFL teams are putting together a league that’s built to sustain the undying thirst of fan bases around the country, especially in these major markets. As long as the talent pool stays stocked (which it should) and games continue to excite (which they are), the XFL can cement itself as the spring football league we’ve been waiting for under the guidance of XFL commissioner Oliver Luck, leadership like Dallas head coach Bob Stoops, perfectly-sized venues from Audi Field in Washington, D.C. to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, and games being aired weekly on ABC, FOX, FS1, ESPN, and ESPN2.
Total Attendance Leaders (As of XFL Week 4)
1. STL: 57,081 (2 games)
2. SEA: 51,232 (2 games)
3. DAL: 35,528 (2 games)
4. HOU: 34,918 (2 games)
5. DC: 32,194 (2 games)
6. TB: 30,366 (2 games)
7. NY: 29,750 (2 games)
8. LA: 27,190 (2 games)
This article was originally published February 17, 2020. It will be updated weekly as XFL attendance figures are announced.