Last week the USFL finalized the landscape up their upcoming season when they officially named Canton, OH and Detroit, MI as the final two hub cities. This is contrast to season 1, where the league hosted the full season in Birmingham, AL.
With the strategic expansion in place, we wanted to take a chance to take a look at all of the hub stadiums the league will be utilizing in 2023.
Birmingham, AL – Protective Stadium
Last year Protective Stadium most of the USFL season, so it would only make sense that the league would return for season 2. This time around Protective Stadium will serve as home to the Birmingham Stallions and New Orleans Breakers.
Protective Stadium is the newwest of the USFL hub stadiums, opening on October 2, 2021. The stadium replaced Legion Field as the home of the UAB Blazers football program. Speaking of Legion, it looks as if they’re not going to be in the mix for season 2. There were a handful of games played of of Legion last year due to sceduling conflicts with the World Games.
The season opener between the Birmingham Stallions and New Jersey Generals is currently the tenth most attended event at Protective, pulling in 17,500 people. With a championship under their belt, there’s a good chance the Stallions beat their previous attendance record.
Canton, OH – Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
Canton, OH is the only host city on this list that currently doesn’t have a local team. The closest in proximity to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium is the Pittsburgh Maulers. Conicidentally (or not), the stadium is set to host the Maulers and New Jersey Generals this year. Although neither team is dedicated to Canton, Pittsburgh is roughly 90 minutes away. If Pittsburgh can turn things around, we think there’s a good chance fans make the drive.
This isn’t the first time that the USFL has stepped foot in Tom Benson. Last year the league hosted their Playoffs and Championship in Canton, both of which pulled in a good crowd. Good enough, it seems, that FOX was interested in leveraging the existing partnership going into the new season.
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium is the smallest on the list, which could play in its favor.
Detroit, MI – Ford Field
In contrast to above, Ford Field is the largest USFL hub stadium. Daryl Johnston has stated that the league has an attendance goal of 15,000 fans per home game, which he belives the USFL can achieve. Similar to last year in Birmingham, the league is looking to keep things affordable. Addtionally, the Michigan Panthers are the last professional football team to win a championship in the state. That has to account for something.
Beyond the Panthers, the Philadelphia Stars will also call the stadium home for season 2.
Ford Field is also the only USFL hub stadium to play host to an NFL team. Located in downtown Detroit, the league will face some comeptition in the Tigers and Red Wings. That being said, if the Panthers can go into week 3 with a winning record, there’s a good chance that fans will show up to see a winning team in the city.
Memphis, TN – Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium
Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium was the first new hub to be announced in the leadup to season 2. The news came after it was revealed that the Tampa Bay Bandits were being repackaged to the Memphis Showboats. The rebrand came about because the league had the opportunity to move into a new host city. When it was initially revealed the USFL left the door open for a potential Bandits return in the future.
This isn’t the first time that Liberty Stadium has hosted the USFL, but it will be under this new ownership group. The stadium was home to the original Showboats back in the 80’s. The league has recently started embracing the USFL’s past, and it could be key in building an audience in this new location. This season Liberty Stadium will host the Memphis Showboats as well as the Houston Gamblers.
The stadium is also the site of the annual Liberty Bowl, the annual Southern Heritage Classic and is home of the Memphis Tigers.
Which is your favorite USFL hub stadium this season? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.