Detroit didn't make strong push for XFL franchise

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Vince McMahon

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the Detroit Sports Commission's role in bringing sporting events to the city.

Vince McMahon's reincarnation of the XFL hinted at possibly putting a team in Detroit. But that apparently never was a serious consideration.

Officials with the Detroit Sports Commission, a non-profit that focuses mostly on bringing amateur sporting events to the city but occasionally is consulted by business leaders interested in professional sports ventures, said nobody approached the organization to discuss pursuing an XFL franchise.

The XFL, which is scheduled to relaunch in 2020, announced Wednesday afternoon the eight inaugural franchises: Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Washington D.C.

Those cities represent seven of the nation's top 13 media markets.

Detroit is No. 14; St. Louis, at No. 21, was the only city below Detroit to get a franchise.

The XFL, set to play in the spring, outside of the NFL window, hinted at possible Detroit interest last week when it secured the web domain rights for 21 cities, including Detroit.

Sports leaders in Detroit, though, appear mostly focused on landing a Major League Soccer franchise as the next big entrant into the vibrant — and competitive — sports market. Detroit has the four major professional sports franchises, all of which are battling and struggling for a share of the community's entertainment dollars, and the area's local soccer franchise, Detroit City FC, is turning professional next season.

The first edition of the XFL launched in 2001, and shuttered the same year, with McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment and broadcast partner NBC each reportedly losing $35 million. The league was known for being one-part soap opera (like WWE), one-part football, with scantily dressed cheerleaders, made up off-field story lines (which had fans and the like questioning the outcome of the games), and players wearing nicknames on their jerseys, like Rod Smart's infamous, "He Hate Me."

McMahon has vowed that the league will be a more-traditional sports outlet this time around, and has hired former professional quarterback Oliver Luck as its CEO, and has included several football professionals in an advisory role, including former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984