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XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck ‘impressed’ with Tampa Bay’s home-opener

The commissioner said Saturday’s game was a prime example of why Tampa Bay’s market works for a league like this.
In this file photo, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck visits Tampa Bay Vipers players at their Plant City practice facility. [XFL]
In this file photo, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck visits Tampa Bay Vipers players at their Plant City practice facility. [XFL]

TAMPA — Oliver Luck’s weekend was far from over Saturday evening as he sat in the press box of Raymond James Stadium watching the Seattle-Dallas XFL game on television.

It was an evening that encapsulated how the past three weeks have been for the XFL Commissioner, who wanted to be in Tampa Bay for the Vipers home-opener.

“It’s been great,” Luck said on Saturday night. “We spent a lot of time and a lot of people working on this, getting this ready for the season and you jump into it and it goes quickly.”

Luck said he has been happy with the fans’ reception, especially with the rule innovations and the scaled-back time commitment.

“They get in and they get out,” he said. “We’ve been happy with some of our internal metrics — number of plays, etc. — which has been good, too. I think we’re seeing some pretty good football.”

Related: For Vipers fans, less is more

An announced crowd of 18,117 witnessed the Vipers’ 34-27 loss to Houston Saturday, which ranked third of four XFL games last weekend. The 29,554 in St. Louis was the league’s largest through three weeks. The 12,211 in Los Angeles last weekend was the smallest of the season.

Overall, attendance for the XFL has steadily risen since Week 1, going up from 69,8181 fans to 81,942 in Week 3.

Luck believes the pace is the best thing the league has done when it comes to innovating. The ease of buying a cheap ticket and being able to bring your family is another factor.

”I can’t imagine anybody would have left (Saturday’s game) and said, ‘Oh, that was a dull game,’” he said. “It was exciting. It was fun.”

As for how Tampa Bay showed up, the commissioner wasn’t disappointed.

“I think Tampa showed up great,” Luck said . “I thought it was an excellent crowd — into it, excited. All in all, beautiful weather and kind of one of the reasons (why) we chose Tampa, the nice weather this time of year. It was impressive.”

Luck flew to St. Louis on Sunday for the Battlehawks’ home opener, and is interested in the different dynamics in that market, which lost the NFL when the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016.

“I think there’s a sense of let’s show people we can make it work,” he said.

And it’s that sense of hope that gives the commissioner confidence in XFL’s ability to build a brand in the springtime.

“I think we feel pretty good about where we are,” he said. “I think all-in-all we’re onto something.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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