The band-new XFL league will kick off its inaugural 2020 season on Saturday and Sunday, February 8-9, 2020. The Vince McMahon-led professional football league is more of a spiritual successor to the failed 2001 XFL, rather than a re-boot of the failed league.

The new league launches with eight teams spread across the United States. With just eight teams, each one will garner a much larger geographic fanbase than say, an NFL team that has 31 other franchises to compete with.

While the first game has yet to kickoff, that hasn’t stopped Betonline.ag from creating a map detailing the most popular team in each state. This information is compiled using geotagged Twitter data, tracking which teams are talked about most on Twitter in each state. It’s not an exact science (some people don’t use Twitter, some users don’t have their tweets geo-tagged) but it’s easily our best look at how XFL fandoms are expected to shake out across the country.

Photo Credit: Betonline.ag via The Score

The St. Louis BattleHawks claim 12 states, dominating the mid-west region of the United States. Major cities in this these 12 states include Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Kansas City.

After that, the Seattle Dragons and New York Guardians lay claim to 8 states each. Seattle holds down the Pacific Northwest and stretches into the Rocky Mountain region. Their 8 states include the likes of Portland and Denver, as well as Alaska and North Dakota. For New York, 3,000 miles away on the other side of the country, the Guradians have a stranglehold on the Northeast corner. Interestingly, this includes the Boston/New England area. Would fans that find themselves usually at odds with the Boston-New York rivalry really root for a New York-based team? Geographically, it’s their only real option, though fans could always opt for a long-distance fandom instead.

Next up, the Tampa Bay Vipers naturally take control of the Southeast. Besides encompassing the Florida cities of Miami, Orlando, and Jacksonville, the Vipers geographic fan map includes Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. If the Southeast gets behind the XFL at even of a fraction of the rate they support their college football teams, the Vipers could have one of the best fanbases in the league.

The D.C. Defenders, despite pressure from the North (Guardians), West (BattleHawks) and South (Vipers) are able to carve out their own 5-state fanbase. In addition to Washington D.C. (which is not a state,) the Defenders currently lay claim to Pennsylvania (and two big football towns in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,) Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland.

Image result for dc defenders xfl
Former Ohio State and NFL quarterback Cardale Jones looks to lead the D.C. Defenders at the quarterback position. (Photo: NBC Sports)

Moving down the list further, the Los Angeles Wildcats and Dallas Renegades hold just three states apiece: but this doesn’t mean they’ll have the smallest fanbases. The Wildcats home state of California includes at least 39.9 million people, per the 2010 Census. The Los Angeles-based team will also gave fans in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The Southwest is the Wildcats to control, with major cities besides L.A. including Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and within California, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento. In most leagues, Californians are split, with multiple teams calling California home. But not in this case.

In a similar scenario, the Renegades “only” hold three states, but Texas is the 2nd-most populous state in the country, with a population of least 29.5 million calling the Lone Star state home. According to the data, the Renegades will also be the most popular team in New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Last but not least are the Houston Roughnecks. Texas is the only state that will hold two of the XFL’s first eight teams. Although Houston is the biggest city in Texas with 2.3 million residents per a 2018 Census Estimate, they find themselves playing second-fiddle to Dallas (1.3 million residents,) much like in the NFL. But this doesn’t mean the Roughnecks were shut out. Despite being the only team not to lead in their home state, the Roughnecks have been the most-talked about team in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. As mentioned with the Vipers, if this die-hard college football region gives even a little attention to the XFL, the Roughnecks could have some great fans.

What do you think of this preliminary fanbase map? Do any of the results surprise you? Will you be rooting for a team based on geography, team name/colors, players, or something else? To join the XFL conversation, head over to Sak Sports Blog on Twitter, and claim your team!

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