Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

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Rangersking669
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Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Rangersking669 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 4:42 pm

Please refer to the introduction page in order to compare information with other markets.

FYI: Hampton Roads is a channel that combines the mouths of the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers and flows from there through the Chesapeake Bay out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Basic Market Data
CSA: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Chesapeake; 2019 Population: 1.9M; Growth since 2010 census: +3.09%
TV Market: 46th
NFL Teams: None in market, closest team is Washington Football Team in Landover, MD(~3 hours 10 min from Norfolk, ~3 hour 20 min from Virginia Beach, ~3 hour 25 min from Chesapeake)
Non-NFL Pro Teams: None
Spring Football History: Virginia Destroyers UFL(Virginia Beach); Stadium: Virginia Beach Sportsplex; 2011 average attendance: 13K, not counting 2012 because that season was a dysfunctional mess
Stadiums: S.B Ballard Stadium, Norfolk(ODU campus, ~10 min from Downtown Norfolk, ~20 min from Chesapeake, ~30 min from Virginia Beach) Capacity: 22.5K(easily expandable to 30K in future); Completed in 2019, atop site of old stadium with newer end zone seating from previous renovations remaining

Market Characteristics

People Related

Economic Status: The area is heavily supported by the federal government, with it containing the largest active duty military population in the country, and also the most congested military presence in any worldwide metropolitan area, as well as containing facilities of NASA and various other departments. Due to it's warm water climate and close proximity to the deep ocean, it is the third largest port in the country when combining imports and exports. There is a strong shipbuilding industry in the area, naturally. The world's largest shipyard is located in Norfolk. Because of this, the area has a lot of disposable income, especially with lots of retired military personnel(among others) who collect on pensions, capital gains, and property income adding far more income to the area than the typical listed data shows.

Assessment: An XFL team most definitely has the potential to capitalize on the available suite and club facilities at the stadium with the amount of disposable income available here. Yet at the same time, the industrial nature of the area offers some great opportunities for building a team identity that bonds well with the blue collar members of the community that are the backbone of many NFL fan bases who typically can't afford to attend NFL games but could afford attending XFL games.

Population Growth Assessment:
The area isn't growing too much and seems to be reaching it's relative peak population in the decades to come, with only 3% growth in the area over the past decade. However, the area shouldn't be under threat for decreased population for decades to come.
Aside: With the area's low elevation and proximity to the water, it may come under threat to be flooded in the next 80-100 years to the point an XFL team may not be viable any longer. However, that is far, far down the line and the XFL can re evaluate that if the possibility of the threat becomes more imminent, and being honest, if the XFL is still around 80 years from its second re-launch that would be an incredible achievement, and that's not because I don't believe in the XFL, it's just that anything lasting that long is incredibly rare. Even the NBA has not yet reached its 80s. The MLS just completed its 25th season. If the XFL reaches 80 years old, regardless of whether you choose the start date as 2020 or 2022, I might not live to see it reach that age(*knocks on wood*), and I'm a college freshman who didn't take any gap years or work right out of high school. Let's keep things in perspective and enjoy this ride while it lasts.

Universities: Norfolk State, College of William & Mary, Hampton University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Wesleyan, Christopher Newport University
Students in Total, Undergraduate and Graduate: 50.5K
Assessment: This is about as many students in total as a large public university like UT Austin or Michigan State University, which isn't a lot for an entire market, but is more than enough to attract some fans with student pricing at select games or in select sections to help sell out some more seats, especially considering the only XFL-quality facility in the area is on the campus of Old Dominion, which is also the largest institution in the region with about 25,000 students.

Transportation Related

Roads and Public Transportation: There are only 3 bridges that cross the harbor that separate the peninsula from South Hampton Roads, where the majority of the population is located and where the stadium is located, with only 2 of those bridges going to Norfolk. There is also a free automobile and bus ferry that crosses to the mainland from Jamestown, but that doesn't cross close to Norfolk. Meanwhile, there is a light rail service that doesn't connect to ODU, where the stadium is. Therefore, the only way to attend games without walking or biking for awhile is to take a bus, of which there are plenty though the routes can take awhile once you're outside of Norfolk.

Parking: There are a handful of 4-5 story parking garages on campus, but there still may be some parking congestion problems compared to a stadium built in more open space.

Assessment: The transportation limitations are by far are the largest drawbacks to putting a team here. Most fans are going to have to drive to games, which may be difficult if they live on the peninsula. Fortunately, most of the population is south of the peninsula, so the worst of these drawbacks are somewhat mitigated. The XFL isn't drawing major crowds here that would cause traffic jams like what could have occurred in St. Louis if the week 6 game against LA had been played, so it should be fine.


Sport Related

Fun Fact: Hampton Roads is the largest CSA without a professional sports team in the Big 5, with Hartford being larger if you include Springfield, MA, which isn't in their CSA but is only ~30 min away. However, Hartford is much closer to the Boston market and especially Foxborough. Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point(aka the Piedmont Triad) is similar to Hartford in this matter, but unlike Hartford, doesn't have a population that is somewhat declining and in the decades to come will catch up to the Hampton Roads area.

Loyalty/Support of Sports Teams(Major and Spring Football):
Virginia Squires, ABA: The Squires came to Virginia from DC(which they originally came from Oakland) at the request of the NBA, which was negotiating a merger with the ABA at the time and wanted to move the Baltimore Bullets to DC. Low attendance(average of 4.5K, which is still better than they had in DC or Oakland) plagued the Squires in many seasons (numbers from their first and last seasons, with the first season being less representative due to numbers being suppressed by poor attendance in Roanoke) with considerably higher numbers when they had Julius Erving(1971-73) and George Gervin(1972-73), as attendance peaked at an average of 6.3K in 1972-73 and almost 8K in Norfolk, as they played in three arenas across Virginia at the same time in Richmond, Norfolk, and Hampton. In their most successful seasons, the Squires lost in the East Division finals in 6 games to the Kentucky Colonels in 1971, and in 7 games to the New York Nets in 1972, and would never make it out of the first round ever again. The team(and most of the league for that matter) was in constant financial struggle and therefore quite unstable, as the league had no national television deals and the Squires had poor local TV coverage that often wouldn't cover away games, and mediocre attendance in even the best years. Because of this, the team was forced to trade or sell all of their stars to more financially stable teams, most of which would go on to join the NBA while the Squires folded weeks before they were able to even receive a payout from the incoming merger.

Assessment: Considering the limited, regional popularity of basketball in the 70's, the Squires not having a consistent home arena, and the area having a third the population that it has today, fan support of the Squires was rather good, as it was consistent with average ABA attendance to start, then rose to above league average, then fell down to similar numbers in their waning seasons to their first season that would fall far behind league average that was not held back by poor attendance in Roanoke. However, the team did consistently have stronger support in the Hampton Roads area, with Norfolk giving the team it's best attendance numbers. Naturally, loyalty for the Squires tanked when they lost all their stars in favor of financial survival, as area residents knew the team's days were likely numbered and the quality of the team's play was dropping off significantly.

Virginia Destroyers, UFL: The Destroyers arrived in Hampton Roads in 2011, after 2 consecutive championship losses but subpar attendance in cavernous stadiums in Orlando and Tampa Bay. By modern standards, the Destroyers had pretty horrendous facilities for a professional team at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. Over half of the stadium's capacity came from temporary bleachers paid for by the UFL to extend the capacity of the stadium, and it just didn't(and still doesn't) have the profit potential to support any sort of large scale professional team with only 6 mediocre suites. Even with the bleachers, the capacity was still only 17,000.

Also, the UFL had pretty poor television deals that limited the exposure of the league, with national cable coverage on HDNet, a network owned by Mark Cuban at the time which is now AXS TV, and Versus, which is now NBC Sports Network. Even then, the UFL had to pay for broadcast times and then recoup money from commercial sponsorships. After Comcast, the parent company of Versus, bought NBC, Versus didn't renew their deal with the UFL. The UFL announced they would have select games on HDNet for the 2011 season, but HDNet later stated they never agreed to air games. Thus, the Destroyers were only on TV in 2011 on Comcast Sports Net+ Mid-Atlantic for 1 regular season game, as they only agreed to a local TV deal mid-season, with another game that would have been broadcasted being taken off the air ahead of time due to a potential overflow conflict with the San Jose Sharks on CSN California, and the third game being canceled due to financial struggles. Televised games were also streamed online on Veetle, which no longer exists as far as I can tell. The 2011 championship game, which the Destroyers won and played at home, was broadcasted on the main CSN Mid-Atlantic rather than the alternate plus channel.

The Destroyers had limited exposure to market themselves, as the team didn't exactly get many commercials or even involvement in major TV networks, as Versus and HDNet didn't ever have good viewership numbers ahead of time, and the team didn't have a broadcast deal to start the season. Despite all of this, the Destroyers still averaged nearly 13,000 fans in attendance in 2011, with 14,172 fans attending the championship game to witness Marty Schottenheimer win his only championship as a coach, 46 years after winning an AFL championship as a player. In the off-season, the UFL went silent for months, until the league finally announced the continuation of the season on July 26, 2012, along with a new TV deal with CBS Sports Network which saw them pay production costs and then have to sell commercial slots. This silence led to dwindling attendance numbers, especially when the league began failing to pay players, leading to doubt over whether remaining games would be played. In the Destroyers first home game, 5,316 fans attended, while so few attended in their second and last home game that the league refused to release an attendance number. After that, the league suspended operations and never played again.

Assessment: Considering the UFL's constant instability in its final seasons and lack of exposure, in addition to the quality of the facilities the Destroyers played at, the support for the Destroyers was pretty strong, as they came about with a league already in decline, whereas Sacramento and Omaha came about in a league on the rise with national cable television deals that wasn't yet canceling games, failing to pay players, and going silent on the league's future. If the Destroyers had played at a higher quality facility and been better marketed with better resources, it's likely they could have sold 17,000 or so a game in the spring out the gate at the aging S.B Ballard Stadium that would later be mostly torn down and rebuilt in 2019, which had a capacity of about 19.8K at the time. However, because the league played in the fall, the Destroyers had to compete with local college football teams Old Dominion, Norfolk State, Hampton(fun fact: Dreamville signed artist JID was on the team at the time), and William & Mary, 3 of which had strong attendance numbers and all of which played in the FCS at the time. The Destroyers also would have had a harder time trying to play at any one of these stadiums because of this, regardless of the fact the options were lower quality at the time.

Among the college football teams, Old Dominion has a strong, loyal support base, which helped fuel their rise into the FBS and contribute to their massive stadium upgrades that make the market attractive enough to the XFL. More information on S.B. Ballard Stadium will appear in the Stadium segment.

Attempts to Bring Pro Sports Teams:
Four attempts have been made to bring major league teams to the area since the Squires folding, and they have failed every time. They failed to convince the NHL to expand there in 1997, they failed to win the bid for the Charlotte Hornets relocation in 2002, they failed to win the bid for the Montreal Expos in 2004, and their talks with the Sacramento Kings in 2012 to relocate there never went that far.
Assessment: The fact that the area made several efforts to bring professional sports there means there likely is enough appetite to support an XFL team, especially in an intimate stadium environment with moderate capacity.

Stadiums: S.B. Ballard Stadium
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(this last image is from the 2009 renovation, not 2019)

The south end zone suite, club seating, and 724 space parking garage was built in 2009 as part of the Atlantic Bay Football Complex. It has 26 suites and 100 loge boxes with 390 seats, in addition to some first level seating. It also has a full service kitchen and bar that offers upscale concessions for the club seating. Also, the home locker room is located in the complex. S.B. Ballard Stadium had it's sideline grandstands torn down in 2018 and then each side was rebuilt in a mere 9 months in 2019. With this, more club seating was introduced at the 50 yard line on the west stands on the first level, with a full service buffet and bar available. Also, there are seven concessions stands on the ground level for all fans to access that serve a wide variety of options, such as shrimp baskets, crab cakes, a variety of nachos, and your more typical stadium fare and in seat vendor fare. There are now 232 general public restrooms instead of 132. The sideline stands are also 7-10 yards closer to the field than before, helping to make the crowd feel more intimate while also having about 2.3K more seats than beforehand, with seating near the end zones angled towards the center of the field. Also, the sideline seating is more comfortable, with 9 extra inches of legroom added. The stadium also added a 31x51 foot video board on the north east end zone, as well as 2 ribbon boards on the sideline that are about 300 feet long and another on the south end zone that is 125 feet long.
Assessment: With all the upgrades made, there are now 6,170 chair back seats, with the rest of the bench seating on the sideline having backs, about 9,762. All north end zone seating is benches with no backs, which is perfect for a low price section like in DC. The club seating and suite options are adequate enough to support a professional team. Also, restroom facilities have been expanded to support the capacity of the stadium. Finally, there are now 4 elevators instead of just one. Because of all the changes, the stadium has a similar quality to me to that of a TDECU stadium in Houston, but without the cavernous size that would be difficult to fill for years. Yet, the stadium also has a leg up in that it has far less benches with no backs for it's seating. The stadium is still capable of being expanded to 30,000, likely by filling in the corners of the stadium in the north end zone and increasing the capacity of the north end zone seating, in addition to adding another level of club seating on the west sideline. When the time comes, the XFL can enter negotiations with ODU to expand the stadium, but for now, 22.5K is more than enough capacity to work with, which includes standing room only tickets in the south end zone club. It would be more ideal if a facility like this was located in Virginia Beach to capture the largest city population, but it still isn't far of a drive for residents there or in Chesapeake to make the trip out. Hampton and Newport News aren't any further than Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, respectively, but have only one bridge to get there directly.

Team Branding Ideas

Team Name: This one took a lot of pondering considering how many ship like names are already taken, but I settled on the Virginia Anchors. It really brings out the blue collar backbone and historical background of the area while symbolizing strength and resilience. This would be similar to the thought process of how the Detroit Pistons got their name. Bonus points for getting to play a foghorn every time they score a touchdown, or have an opposing third down, or get a safety. It also is not something that catches too many strong affiliations with anything that could be considered controversial, which is ideal considering the easy potential to go for a military style name or even a colonial name with Jamestown being nearby. The last thing the XFL needs is to be caught in hot water for name controversies like the NFL is going to be for decades to come. Yes, I know the Kraken of the NHL have an anchor as a secondary logo, but the NHL would be grasping at straws trying to compare their secondary logo of a team that is represented by a mythical sea monster to a team that is represented by industry, so as long as they don't mimic the exact shape or the colors they should be fine, which is pretty easy to do.
Aside: You thought it was just the NFL's Washington and MLB's Cleveland team names that had to go? Because the public eye is going to come for the Chiefs and the Braves soon enough, and it might be going for the MLB's Rangers and Padres as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if patriotic and militaristic team names get more scrutiny in the decades to come, like it or not. Fortunately, the only XFL team names like that can easily be rebranded to mean different things just like how the Warriors successfully rebranded their name away from distastefully representing indigenous people in the Americas to teeter tottering between just the bay bridge logo and a generic representation of a warrior.

Another idea could be the Virginia Beacons to represent the many lighthouses in the area, but personally I think the Anchors has the better strength to match the name of a football team. Also a lighthouse is the symbol for the city of Virginia Beach and the team would be playing in Norfolk which would be a little odd.

Team Colors: You can go in a lot of directions with a name like the anchors but a steel color and a navy color feel like a must to be included somewhere in the mix. I'd love to see what y'all could come up with to match this and maybe even some logo concepts.

Conclusion: Like any market, Hampton Roads comes with its set of challenges, but I think the pros for the area largely outweigh the cons, and the area is hungry enough for football to support a team with the necessary disposable income to eventually make them profitable. The unique opportunity to corner a market without a Big 5 professional sports team that still has some moderate growth left before it peaks is also salivating, especially with it not being in close proximity to any sports team in those leagues. With Old Dominion's facilities finally being upgraded, the area finally has something actually attractive to a professional football league instead of using a hodgepodge in Virginia Beach or mediocre college stadiums with solid capacities but poor amenities. Also, I personally think a team name like the Anchors kicks ass but that's just me.

Given all this information(and anything else you might know), what do you think about placing an XFL team in the Hampton Roads area? How would you compare it to the other options available? How soon do you think a team should be placed there? Lemme hear it in the comments below.
Last edited by Rangersking669 on Sat Jan 16, 2021 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by GDAWG » Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:20 pm

I think that the new ownership would need to do their homework in regards to those stadiums. Will it be like Houston Roughnecks? If so, then Hampton Roads would be a good market. The stadiums have to have the ability to change the word markings and logos on the field from the college team to the XFL team. Houston did it so well. Whether or not Old Dominion's stadium has that ability is unknown. Otherwise it's going to look amateurish. If Old Dominion doesn't have that capability, then this area of Virginia is a no.

It all depends on the aesthetics of the stadium (ie how it looks on TV). It doesn't look good on the XFL if the Virginia XFL team doesn't have their own logos or word markings on the stadium and instead it says "Old Dominion" all over the field and end zones.

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by GregParks » Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:34 pm

GDAWG wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:20 pm
I think that the new ownership would need to do their homework in regards to those stadiums. Will it be like Houston Roughnecks? If so, then Hampton Roads would be a good market. The stadiums have to have the ability to change the word markings and logos on the field from the college team to the XFL team. Houston did it so well. Whether or not Old Dominion's stadium has that ability is unknown. Otherwise it's going to look amateurish. If Old Dominion doesn't have that capability, then this area of Virginia is a no.

It all depends on the aesthetics of the stadium (ie how it looks on TV). It doesn't look good on the XFL if the Virginia XFL team doesn't have their own logos or word markings on the stadium and instead it says "Old Dominion" all over the field and end zones.
That's a really good point that I hadn't thought of.
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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by GDAWG » Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:37 pm

GregParks wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:34 pm
GDAWG wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:20 pm
I think that the new ownership would need to do their homework in regards to those stadiums. Will it be like Houston Roughnecks? If so, then Hampton Roads would be a good market. The stadiums have to have the ability to change the word markings and logos on the field from the college team to the XFL team. Houston did it so well. Whether or not Old Dominion's stadium has that ability is unknown. Otherwise it's going to look amateurish. If Old Dominion doesn't have that capability, then this area of Virginia is a no.

It all depends on the aesthetics of the stadium (ie how it looks on TV). It doesn't look good on the XFL if the Virginia XFL team doesn't have their own logos or word markings on the stadium and instead it says "Old Dominion" all over the field and end zones.
That's a really good point that I hadn't thought of.
The University of Houston did a really good job of changing the playing surface of their field to allow the Roughnecks to put their logos and word markings in their stadium. Not all college stadiums are going to be open to doing that. We don't know if Old Dominion will be open to doing that.

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Tank55 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:37 pm

I went to a game at ODU in 2018 and couldn't believe what a dump it was. I know they've put a lot of work into it, but one of the grandstands was still from the 1960s or whatever and very much looked the part. It still looks pretty solid on TV, and that's really what counts. I do think it's the only viable venue in the area.

There are a lot of small problems that some have mentioned, but the bottom line is that it's just not a big enough market to warrant consideration, IMO.

If they did land a team, my vote would be to revive the old Norfolk Neptunes brand of the Continental Football League:

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Rangersking669 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:54 pm

Tank55 wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:37 pm
I went to a game at ODU in 2018 and couldn't believe what a dump it was. I know they've put a lot of work into it, but one of the grandstands was still from the 1960s or whatever and very much looked the part. It still looks pretty solid on TV, and that's really what counts. I do think it's the only viable venue in the area.

There are a lot of small problems that some have mentioned, but the bottom line is that it's just not a big enough market to warrant consideration, IMO.

If they did land a team, my vote would be to revive the old Norfolk Neptunes brand of the Continental Football League:

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yeah those grandstands you are talking about are no longer there because they were torn down and replaced with new ones lmao

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Rangersking669 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:58 pm

GDAWG wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:37 pm
GregParks wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:34 pm
GDAWG wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:20 pm
I think that the new ownership would need to do their homework in regards to those stadiums. Will it be like Houston Roughnecks? If so, then Hampton Roads would be a good market. The stadiums have to have the ability to change the word markings and logos on the field from the college team to the XFL team. Houston did it so well. Whether or not Old Dominion's stadium has that ability is unknown. Otherwise it's going to look amateurish. If Old Dominion doesn't have that capability, then this area of Virginia is a no.

It all depends on the aesthetics of the stadium (ie how it looks on TV). It doesn't look good on the XFL if the Virginia XFL team doesn't have their own logos or word markings on the stadium and instead it says "Old Dominion" all over the field and end zones.
That's a really good point that I hadn't thought of.
The University of Houston did a really good job of changing the playing surface of their field to allow the Roughnecks to put their logos and word markings in their stadium. Not all college stadiums are going to be open to doing that. We don't know if Old Dominion will be open to doing that.
Money talks and if the XFL pays for the turf like what they did in Houston then I'd imagine they can get it done

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Rangersking669 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:08 pm

Tank55 wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:37 pm
I went to a game at ODU in 2018 and couldn't believe what a dump it was. I know they've put a lot of work into it, but one of the grandstands was still from the 1960s or whatever and very much looked the part. It still looks pretty solid on TV, and that's really what counts. I do think it's the only viable venue in the area.

There are a lot of small problems that some have mentioned, but the bottom line is that it's just not a big enough market to warrant consideration, IMO.

If they did land a team, my vote would be to revive the old Norfolk Neptunes brand of the Continental Football League:

Image
So why is Birmingham big enough but virginia is not?

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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Tank55 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:10 pm

It's not. I wouldn't consider Birmingham either.
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Re: Hampton Roads, VA/NC- XFL Expansion/Relocation City Discussion Bonanza

Post by Rangersking669 » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:18 pm

Tank55 wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:10 pm
It's not. I wouldn't consider Birmingham either.
I mean..Birmingham has had a strong history of support for football and they finally are building a new stadium. The XFL shouldn't always be looking for big markets if they can go to reasonably sized markets(remember, over 1.8 million people live in this area and 1.3 million in Birmingham). Meanwhile, all they have to do is fill out that stadium and appeal to the tidewater area and they can do well in virginia

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