ST. LOUIS — On the same day the XFL announced head coaches for the league’s eight teams to begin play in 2023, FOX 2 News confirmed St. Louis was in the mix to host one of those teams.
Kitty Ratcliffe is the president of Explore St. Louis, which operates the Dome at America’s Center where the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks played in 2020.
In an email to FOX 2, Ratcliffe said: “We are interested and have had some discussions, but there is nothing definitive at this point. They have a lot of cities to work on but glad they are interested in us.”
You got the feeling from 101 ESPN-FM radio, Wednesday, that St. Louis fans weren’t quite done with the XFL, either. The Battlehawks played just five games and only two at the Dome in St. Louis before COVID-19 side-tracked the league but fans loved them.
They filled enough seats to force the team to sell “upper bowl” tickets at the Dome. They created the battle cry, “Ka-Kaw,” which swept St. Louis and became a marketing phenomenon, four years after Stan Kroenke moved his NFL Rams out of St. Louis after 21 seasons.
“The XFL would be absolutely, positively, insane if they didn’t have a team in St. Louis,” Anthony Stalter, host of 101 ESPN’s ‘The Fast Lane’, told listeners. “I’ll go as far to say, St. Louis should be the model for what the XFL is looking for.”
“The Battlehawks were something I feel everybody wrapped their arms around,” added Stalter’s co-host, former St. Louis Blues player Jamie Rivers. “(St. Louis) was one of the most successful markets they (the XFL) had in their short tenure. We’ll have football back at the dome. “We’ll be the experimental league for the NFL. Who cares? We’ll have our team back.”
Having a professional football team “birthed” in St. Louis after losing the Rams which had come here from Los Angeles, was critical to the Battlehawks success, Stalter said.
The XFL however, may follow the lead of the USFL. That league will have 8 pro football teams for 8 cities with all games played in one city, Birmingham, Alabama, for the first season, which begins Saturday.
It seems games would have to played in St. Louis for the Battlehawks to truly take flight again.
“Everybody remembered what Kroenke and Demoff had in their little ‘shpiel’ when they went out the door: ‘Unless you’re the baseball team you’re not going to be successful in St. Louis,’” Stalter said. “It united St. Louis sports fans. It united St. louis football fans. They said, ‘OK watch this’ … and people are tailgating. People are doing the ‘KaKaw.’ It wound up being this incredible event people got behind and it clearly had lasting power.”
Indeed, St. Louis stores are still selling Battlehawks stuff but formal announcements about XFL cities and venues may still be months away.