Can the AAF Succeed in Big Ten Territory?

This past weekend proved one thing, football is king.

The Alliance of American Football captured the hearts and minds of football fans around America in it’s debut. The debut of the AAF was so successful the ratings beat the NBA’s prime time game on ABC Saturday night.

Although it was not NFL quality, the AAF felt like a good middle ground between college football and the NFL. From big hits to trick plays the football was good enough to keep fans interested. Yes, quarterback play needs to improve, but that will come with more reps.

Former college stars like Trent Richardson and Jalin Marshall provided fans with a nostalgic feel of familiar faces.

Meanwhile relatively unknown quarterback John Wolford and linebacker Shaan Washington made names for themselves during the games this weekend.

The initial success of the AAF has rumors of the league expanding in 2020.

Currently the teams are located in the South (Atlanta, Birmingham, Orlando and Memphis) and in the West (Arizona, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Diego).

Certainly there could be interest in expanding up north. The cold weather could be a deterring factor in some locations, but if fan support is fervent enough then the AAF could succeed in northern locations.

The question is could the AAF be successful in Big Ten territory, and if so where?

Columbus, Ohio

The capital of Ohio is also the most populous city in the state. It is within a reasonable driving distance between two NFL franchises, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Columbus also has tons of football fans due to the success of Ohio State’s football team in recent years. Putting an AAF team in the middle of Ohio could be a huge success given the location and a pipeline of talent from Ohio State.

Potential Venues: Ohio Stadium, Mapfre Stadium or the new Columbus Crew Stadium (Under Construction)

Potential of Success:High

Fargo, North Dakota

Technically Fargo is on the fringe of Big Ten territory, just across the state line of Minnesota. Although a very small market, Fargo is full of football fanatics (just watch the old College Gameday videos on YouTube). North Dakota State’s powerhouse football program is the number one sporting attraction in the state. Additionally, if the team played in the Fargodome then the cold would not be an issue. With little to do in North Dakota and being a close market to Minneapolis the AAF could succeed in Fargo if given the chance.

Potential Venues: Fargodome

Potential of Success: Moderate

Iowa City, Iowa

Similar to Fargo there isn’t much to do in Iowa City other than support the local college team. Iowa City is is roughly 200 miles west of Chicago which is a huge market that could support the local AAF team on television. It is also less than two hours from Des Moines, the capital and largest city in Iowa. The University of Iowa has very passionate fans and an AAF team could succeed if the fans were willing to show up and battle the cold.

Potential Venues: Kinnick Stadium

Potential of Success: Low

East Lansing, Michigan

East Lansing is smack dab in the middle of Michigan which could attract fans from all over the state. Michigan is a football crazed state that loves the sport. There is no denying the pipeline of talent that exists in Michigan that an AAF franchise would be able to attract. Putting a team where Michigan State plays could work, but home games outside in February could be brutal.

Potential Venues: Spartan Stadium

Potential of Success: Low

Louisville, Kentucky

Technically Louisville isn’t located in Big Ten territory, but like Fargo it is close enough. Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky and one of the largest cities without a professional sports franchise. Fans have shown fantastic support for the University of Louisville, Louisville Bats and Louisville City FC. Adding a professional football franchise near both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky would create an automatic pipeline of talent for this team. A team in Louisville and a team in Columbus could be perfect rivals as they are fairy close geographically. With two stadiums in the city that could field an AAF team this city seems like an obvious choice.

Potential Venues: Cardinal Stadium, Louisville Slugger Field

Potential of Success: High

Lincoln or Omaha, Nebraska

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have one of the best fan bases in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers consistently sellout their games and in fact have a ridiculous streak of sellouts. Lincoln, Nebraska is not even a full hour away from Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha is the state’s biggest city and has nearly double the population of Lincoln. Omaha was home to the Omaha Nighhawks of the United Football League until the league folded in 2012. The debate comes down to whether the games should be in Lincoln where there is access to a better stadium or in Omaha where there is access to a bigger market.

Potential Venues: Memorial Stadiun (Lincoln) or TD Ameritrade Park (Omaha)

Potential of Success:High

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

There is no denying Wisconsin loves football. Both the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers draw sellout crowds on a regular basis. The biggest issue of placing a team in Milwaukee would be finding a good stadium. Wisconsin is too cold to place a team outdoor in February and Miller Park appears to be the only option in the city as it has a retractable roof. Miller Park was not designed for football and that issue would need to be addressed. However, Milwaukee could support a professional football franchise that plays when the Packers are in the offseason.

Potential Venues: Miller Park

Potential of Success: Moderate

Morgantown, West Virginia

West Virginia does not have a professional sports franchise, but Morgantown could be the perfect spot to start one. With a passionate West Virginia fan base already located there and infrastructure in place an AAF team in Morgantown could succeed if marketed correctly. The team could also draw interest from Pittsburgh which lies an hour and a half to the north. A team in West Virginia could draw talent from big programs like Penn State, University of Pittsburgh and of course West Virginia University.

Potential Venues: Mountaineer Field

Potential of Success: Moderate

Syracuse, New York

Upstate New York surely would embrace an AAF team, just look at how Bills Mafia embraces the Buffalo Bills. An AAF team could succeed in Syracuse if they were able to schedule the football games around the Syracuse’s basketball schedule. A team playing in the Carrier Dome would not be at the mercy of the cold. Furthermore, fans from Albany, Buffalo, New York City and Rochester would flock to come watch competitive AAF franchise.

Potential Venues: Carrier Dome

Potential of Success: Moderate

Toledo, Ohio

A team on the border of Michigan and Ohio could be very interesting if they were able to poach talent from the University of Michigan and Ohio State. Toledo is Ohio’s fourth biggest city and lies just an hour south of Detroit. The biggest issue with a Toledo AAF team would be finding a large enough stadium. The Glass Bowl, home to the University of Toledo football program, only sits 26,000 people.

Potential Venues: Glass Bowl

Potential of Success: Low

One thought on “Can the AAF Succeed in Big Ten Territory?

  1. Those are some pretty good markets. If people measure their expectations, or will be good. I want to be see the trains the next few weeks, though.


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