To say that arena football has failed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area might not technically be wrong, but it also seems to be a bit of a stretch.
Yes, the DFW area has played host to four different teams over the AFL’s 27-year history, including the Dallas Texans, Fort Worth Calvary, Dallas Desperados and Dallas Vigilantes. That certainly seems to be a lot given the league’s relatively short history and especially considering most markets never had more than two teams before they either were successful or deemed as burned. But the success of the Dallas Desperados, even with their help from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, had a pretty remarkable run, creating sort of a niche in the American Airlines Center, and for a while were the most successful team to play in that arena, the Stars run in Reunion Arena not withstanding.
But Texas is a football state and with the San Antonio Talons on the verge of going under, it seems strange to think that the state will not have a team. There is, however, a chance that another team could sneak into area once again.
Back in mid-July, the Fort Worth city council approved plans to move forward to build a new 14,000-seat arena in the city’s cultural district to replace the current arena by the convention center. And even though it still has to be approved by voters and the opening date at least a couple of years off, it could be home to a DFW AFL team.
If memory serves me right, the reason the Vigilantes went under was because of the high rent at the AAC and couldn’t get into the arena in Allen because of the Allen Wranglers of the IFL. Unless the management of this new arena is dumb, that wouldn’t be the case in Fort Worth. The only reason I can think of that the convention center arena is ever used is for the circus. So at the new arena, it would be that and likely the stock show and rodeo that happens every February. Outside of that, the arena will likely sit empty with no other uses, and perfect for an AFL team.
Also, before eventually folding, the Vigilantes were pulling a pretty good crowd. They struggled mightily in 2010, with only an average of 5,686 fans per game, but then had a stronger year in 2011 with 8,518 fans per game, which was above the league average that year, including over 11,000 and 12,000 for the last two games of the regular season. Of course, it helped that they were better that year, but it still shows that this town will support teams, especially winners.
Now, Fort Worth is not Dallas. While I prefer it over Dallas since I live closer to it, but there are some that might not want to make the trip all the way from Plano or Richardson and that part of the Metroplex. And there’s no guarantee that it would exactly work either given the Texan’s and Calvary’s short stints in the AFL.
But I think it’s worth a shot. The area has shown in the past that it can work and with good ownership, management and advertisement (something that can go for every team in every market), the AFL can return successfully to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.