The New Jersey Generals of Birmingham and Canton are not coming home to the Garden State. But they are reportedly getting closer. And potentially very close.
The FOX-owned USFL is examining Detroit and Philadelphia as potential hub cities for the 2023 season, according to The Detroit News, as the second-year spring football league grows after a centrally-located inaugural regular season in Alabama (with playoff games in Ohio).
The USFL has already announced Birmingham and Memphis as hub cities. The league has not determined whether it will have have three or four hubs, according to the report. But either way, it would seem a safe assumption the reigning North Division champion Generals will be playing in one of the Northern hub cities. And if it is Philly, they will be a hop across the Delaware River away from the motherland.
Imagine the emotions when the Generals finally run out onto the field with one or two handfuls of their loyal fans in attendance.
The USFL continues to maintain its goal is to have all eight of its teams play in their home cities (or states, in the Generals’ case). And in fairness to the league, if they have three or four cities hosting games in Year 2 after one in Year 1, that is clear progress toward what they claim. But we remain very skeptical the Generals will ever play a down anywhere in New Jersey.
There is no appetite for spring football in this region. XFL 3.0 made that clear when it passed on the market. And XFL 2.0 was reportedly already considering relocating the Guardians before the pandemic hit. The Generals also did nothing in the way of outreach to the market prior to last season. And even if they end up playing in Philly, it’s hard to imagine that will change. The league named one of its teams the Generals for the sake of merchandise sales and nostalgia, not because it makes sense to have a team here.
What the USFL did earlier this week could have been a preview of the Generals’ future. The league put the Tampa Bay Bandits “on hiatus” and changed the team name to the Memphis Showboats. There are a lot of other old USFL trademarks still left to turn into t-shirts. You may turn around one day and discover the Washington Federals are back instead.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]