The new USFL will return for a second season in 2023, Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks told Sports Business Journal, and will have teams in more markets after a centrally located effort in 2023. The league will continue to have eight teams, but will play out of different markets in 2023, somewhere between two and four. All eight teams called Birmingham, Alabama home in 2022.
It’s not clear if the individual franchises created for 2022, including the Pittsburgh Maulers, will persist. The Maulers, Birmingham Stallions, Philadelphia Stars, Tampa Bay Bandits, Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, Michigan Panthers and New Jersey Generals were the eight franchises revived from the original USFL for the 2022 season. The original USFL had 22 different teams over its four seasons from 1983-97.
“We’re talking to those cities now in terms of how many we’re going to be in locally,” Shanks told SBJ.
The 2022 USFL championship game will be held this weekend in Canton, Ohio, and the relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Tom Benson Stadium could have the Maulers playing a lot closer to home in 2023. The Northeast Ohio town could serve as a hub for the Maulers and Panthers, or Pittsburgh itself could host games, though the 68,400-seat Heinz Field could be a bit too large for the league’s current plans.
The USFL will be the first spring pro football league to play multiple consecutive seasons in quite some time. The Alliance of American Football lasted just one season in 2019. The XFL’s revival was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. That league is expected to re-launch in 2023. It’s not clear whether the XFL will be returning to its previous eight markets, which included Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, New York, St. Louis and Tampa.
“We have a multi-year plan to build this football business,” Shanks said. “If anything, the success of season one makes me even more excited than we were before going into Season 2 and beyond.”
The USFL plans to continue operating as a spring league, with games starting in mid-April and running through to a championship game the firs weekend of July.