It’s way too soon to draw any conclusions about whether the XFL can succeed, but based on the attendance at the two stadiums that hosted XFL games on Saturday, the upstart league has some passionate fans, but not a lot of them.
At both games, one hosted by the DC Defenders and one by the Houston Roughnecks, it was apparent from the crowd noise on the TV broadcast that the fans were into it. The DC crowd, in particular, seemed more excited than the crowd at Washington NFL games last season.
However, attendance was small: DC drew 17,163 fans to Audi Field and Houston drew an announced crowd of 17,815 to TDECU Stadium.
There was a lot to like on the first day of the new XFL. The kickoff rule combines excitement and player safety in a way the NFL has tried and failed to do. The options to go for 1, 2 or 3 after a touchdown makes for some intriguing strategic decisions. Hearing audio of play calling is fun for fans at home.
But will the league last longer than the one season that the XFL lasted in its previous incarnation? They’ll need to draw a consistent audience, at the stadium and especially on TV, to do that.