In a case of epic bad timing, the XFL is joining the Sonics, Pilots, Totems, Sea-Port Cascades, PGA and LPGA tour stops, the Seattle Bowl, Virginia Slims women’s tennis, Leilani Lanes pro bowling and college basketball Final Fours in the basement closet of Seattle sports enterprises that no longer are.
The new spring pro football league and its Seattle franchise, the Dragons, shuttered operations Friday after a half-season.
Although it was called a suspension by CEO Jeffrey Pollack in a 10-minute conference call with employees, they were told by letter that was posted on social media that employees were permanently laid off.
Cause of extinction was the commencement of a season just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep the globe.
Welp… ✌🏽 pic.twitter.com/5Fe5C5ubOe
— Brian Peters (@brian_peters10) April 10, 2020
“We are taking this action because of COVID-19-related business circumstances that were not reasonably forseeable,” the letter said.
“Given the uncertainty of the current environment, the XFL has suspended operations and is evaluating next steps,” the WWE, whose chairman and CEO, Vince McMahon, owns the XFL, said in a statement Friday.
The eight-team league was in a 10-week regular season, but made it to five games. The Dragons, coached by former Seahawks quarterback legend and Ring of Honor member Jim Zorn, were 1-4.
The XFL joined all other American sports leagues and tours in suspending operations in mid-March when social distancing mandates ended the gathering of crowds. Players were told at the time their salaries would be paid for a full season.
Even though the league secured national broadcast time on ESPN and FOX during the slowest part of the sports calendar, the revenues apparently were not enough to sustain operations to a second season in February.
The national shutdown of non-essential businesses has done considerable damage to the economy, and is expected to worsen until a vaccine is found, which public health experts do not anticipate for at least a year.
McMahon, in his second try with a spring football league — the raunchy 2001 version of the XFL was generally hooted off the stage — took things more seriously this time. He had a two-year developmental run-up and hired solid football people to create a “complementary” follow-up to the NFL season.
XFL innovations, including a different kickoff alignment, a no-kick PAT with three choices of risk/reward, and live mics on coaches and players, were seen as plausible adoption possibilities by the NFL.
The XFL demise follows that of the Alliance of American Football, another spring league which closed abruptly after eight weeks in 2019 practically in between snap and handoff. Seattle did not have an AAF franchise.
Now the watch continues for other sports that may not survive even after the return to work, whenever it occurs, for non-essential businesses.