The Tampa Bay Vipers: Will They Return To Tampa?

The Tampa Bay Vipers: Should They Return To Tampa?

With the XFL’s return on the horizon, there is quite a bit of speculation circling around which teams will stay where they are, and which teams could be moved. While we are unsure about when the league will be able to return, there are certain factors from last season that play a role in whether or not a team will remain at its current location. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the Tampa Bay Vipers, and what their future may hold as an XFL team.

Recap of the 2020 Season

The Tampa Bay Vipers finished in last place in the XFL East, with a record of 1-4. Despite having the best rushing attack in the league, the Vipers struggled to close out games, losing heart-breakers to both Houston and Los Angeles. Marc Trestman, Tampa Bay’s head coach, received flak throughout the season for some of the decisions he made, along with some of his play calls in games. Overall, the Vipers did not see as much success as they had hoped for in their XFL debut. 

When it comes to fan attendance, the Vipers didn’t see outstanding numbers, especially compared to other teams. In their first home game they had 18,117 fans come out, but that dropped to 12,249 in their second home match-up of the year. The Tampa Bay Vipers played in Raymond James Stadium, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the best stadium choice for them considering their crowds. 

What Could the Future Hold for the Tampa Bay Vipers?

There are a few factors to take into consideration for the Vipers’ future. Firstly, the XFL may try to take advantage of the folded Alliance of American Football’s best markets. The Orlando Apollos saw an average of 19,648 fans in their home games, which is an impressive number considering the AAF struggled to advertise the league effectively. If the Vipers moved to Orlando, which is a possibility, they would most likely see stronger attendance numbers, especially since the XFL does a better job than the AAF with fan interaction. 

This leads to the next area the XFL needs to consider: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL franchise has seen some of the NFL’s best players join the team this year, including Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. With all the hype surrounding these new additions to the Buccaneers, the Vipers might just become an afterthought to Tampa Bay football fans. If Tampa Bay moved to Orlando, they would not have to compete with any other professional football teams, which could lead to more success. 

One of the biggest stories heading into the XFL’s future is the whole ordeal concerning the coaches, and who may come back or join the league. Something the XFL needs to think about is who they plan on bringing back, and who may be on the chopping block. Marc Trestman did not perform very well in the league’s short run, and could be one of the coaches that gets cut. However, Steve Spurrier, who coached the Orlando Apollos said he would be interested in joining the XFL if it returned.

The simple solution for this situation would be to let Spurrier coach the Vipers. In fact, if they moved to Orlando, it may be the perfect decision since Orlando would get back professional football, along with their excellent AAF coach. The Orlando Apollos were the best team in the Alliance, boasting a 7-1 record, and Spurrier was one of the main reasons for their success. If the XFL does move the Vipers to Orlando, we could certainly see Spurrier take over at the coaching position. 

At the end of the day, we can only speculate as to what will ultimately happen to the Tampa Bay Vipers. The decision will also be leaning on whether or not the XFL decides to play in 2021, or wait until 2022. If they play in 2021, we would probably see a bubble format. In 2022, we would most likely see the teams return to their own cities, so we may not know the answer to this question until then. Regardless of what happens, Orlando does have a solid case for being the Vipers’ potential new home.

Where do you think the Tampa Bay Vipers will end up, if the XFL decides to move them? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord