The Maulers are back.
The USFL, a spring pro football league defunct since the mid 1980s, is attempting a return for the 2022 season, and it is bringing back some of the league’s historic brands.
The Pittsburgh Maulers played in just one season in the original USFL, going 3-15 back in 1984.
But their brand is one of eight that has been revived for the 2022 version of the league, along with the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Gamblers, Michigan Panthers, New Jersey Generals, New Orleans Breakers, Philadelphia Stars and Tampa Bay Bandits.
The league unveiled the names of the franchises, along with logos and social media handles, on Monday.
We are the Pittsburgh Maulers ⚒ pic.twitter.com/kvQL4hY8uI
— Pittsburgh Maulers (@USFLMaulers) November 22, 2021
But don’t race out to buy tickets just yet.
Though the teams are named after historic USFL franchises, the league’s inaugural season will not be played in those cities, but instead at one, centralized location.
According to Sports Business Journal, that location will be in Birmingham, where the teams will play at UAB’s new Protective Stadium. Birmingham is the only market of those revived that does not compete with the NFL.
It’s not clear if the league has a timeframe during which they will move the franchises into the locations of their home cities, or if they will at all. Four other spring football ventures, the World League of American Football/NFL Europe, XFL (twice), Arena Football League and Alliance of American Football, have all failed since the USFL folded. The XFL is planning a third return for 2023.
The Maulers played their games at Three Rivers Stadium in 1984, and drew well at first, bringing 53,771 to the home opener against Birmingham on March 11. But as the season went on, losses piled up, and the future of the league became uncertain, the crowds thinned, with just 16,832 seeing the finale against Tampa Bay on June 16.
Owned by Youngstown, Ohio real estate developer Edward DeBartolo, Sr., who also owned the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Spirit indoor soccer club, the team was committed to returning for the 1985 season, before the league voted to change the schedule to a fall one to compete directly against the NFL.
If the Maulers were to return to Pittsburgh, it is unclear where they would play. Besides Heinz Field, which is almost certainly too large for a minor-pro team at nearly 70,000 seats, the next-largest-capacity stadium in the city is Highmark Stadium, which seats just 5,000 and would have scheduling conflicts with its primary tenant, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.