The XFL is planning on setting up shop at the Plant City Stadium following an unanimous vote during Monday night’s commission meeting.
The XFL Football League has long been a topic of passion for avid football fans.
Some think the idea is genius as it vows to offer an outlet for football fanatics to continue enjoying their preferred sport long after the Super Bowl while simultaneously offering players another potential route to the NFL or to play for a few more years before they officially retire. Others are less than optimistic and remember its Icarus flight nearly two decades ago, when it lasted merely one season before burning out. However, owner Vince McMahon is determined to make it succeed this time and is setting all the chess pieces in place to take home the glory when games begin in 2020.
Plant City might be the perfect place for its athletes to prepare for a heavy year of play.
The agreement between the City of Plant City and Alpha Entertainment, LLC, which owns the XFL, will offer portions of the Plant City Stadium facility for practices, training, offices, a media center and other similar items. With a two-year term, the contract can be reevaluated and expanded if needed.
During training, the entire team and its coaching staff — approximately 70 to 80 people — will relocate to Plant City for approximately five months. Whether they’re staying in hotel rooms or renting homes, it’s sure to be a boost to the local economy. The players will fully immerse themselves into the community and for a few months a year, Plant City will once again have a major sports team housed in its back yard.
City Manager Bill McDaniel said the renovations to the stadium that the league requires will be fully funded by Alpha Entertainment, LLC. The group reached out to the city around the state time the Sheffield Sports Village deal was coming to an end. The timing was perfect and McDaniel joked that even though he isn’t even remotely interested in football, he dove right into his research to see if this would be a good fit for the city.
Currently, the facility is used by the International Softball Federation and the XFL wants to do many interior renovations before the training starts. They’re trying to get in early to get started and are in the process of speaking with the current tenants to see if they can get early access to portions of the property to begin the preliminary work. The renovations will begin Nov. 2 and the team hopes to be ready to roll by the time December training begins.
“We always want to make sure that we are protecting the assets of the community,” Vice Mayor Nate Kilton said. “It’s great that we have the opportunity to utilize the assets we have in Plant City that are under-utilized.”
Kilton said by entering this partnership, Plant City is “stepping up” and showing the city is prepared to be a part of the greater Tampa Bay sports scene. He said it’s crucial the city really starts to think about its Urban Forest and ensure there is a planned long-term use for all of its assets.
Following the unanimous vote in support of welcoming the team, Mayor Rick Lott joked he still could “throw the pigskin” and said maybe he could walk on the team as long as no one tackles him. Representatives from the XFL passed out ball caps to the commissioners and members of the audience to “hype up the team spirit.”
“Well I guess let’s play ball here in Plant City,” Lott said.