On March 12, the XFL announced it was canceling the rest of its regular season.
While the XFL didn't specifically cite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the decision, the NBA, MLB, NHL, the NCAA, and many other leagues have suspended operations and canceled games and championship tournaments in response to this global public health threat.
Up until recently, the location of the XFL Championship game had remained a mystery.
But on Friday, XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck announced that the East and West champions will meet at TDECU Stadium, home of the Houston Roughnecks and University of Houston Cougars. The inaugural XFL Championship is scheduled for April 26 at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.
The XFL has a fairly tight schedule this season with 10 weeks of regular-season play without a bye. The top two teams from each division will advance to the postseason with touchdown differential serving as a tiebreaker.
The first round of the playoffs will be held on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19. The East teams will play at the top seed's home stadium on Saturday at 3 p.m. with the top West team hosting the second playoff game at the same time on Sunday.
So how did the XFL settle on Houston for its first title game? Luck said in an interview with Houston's ABC 13 that the city's fan base played a big role.
"We all know that Houston is an unbelievable football town and people rally around big events, championship events, be it the Super Bowl or Final Four, NBA All-Star game," Luck said. "This was a good decision by us, I think, but a great decision for the Harris County and Houston area."
Interestingly, TDECU Stadium is the fourth-smallest arena to host an XFL team this season at a capacity of just 40,000. The four larger stadiums all hold at least 65,000 fans, and MetLife Stadium leads the way with a capacity of 82,500.
It's unclear if filling out a larger stadium would be hard for the league. Through two weeks, 146,103 total fans came to the eight games, although attendance dropped by 2,000-3,000 for the two teams that hosted home games both weeks (DC Defenders and Los Angeles Wildcats). The Roughnecks are off to a great start at 2-0, but how many fans will want to travel if two visiting teams play in Texas?
In the previous iteration of the XFL, the league played up the championship as the "Million Dollar Game," where the winning team would split $1 million between its 38 players ($26,315.79 each). That game was held at LA Memorial, and both championship teams hailed from California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), but only 24,153 fans came to the then-93,607 capacity stadium.