In a surprise move for the USFL, the Tampa Bay Bandits appear to be moving to Memphis to become the Showboats.
Sources tell reporter Tony Catalina that the move will happen for the upcoming 2023 USFL season, as the Bandits will no longer be in Tampa Bay.
Head coach Toddy Haley has led the Tampa Bay Bandits as the team went 4-6 on the season and missed the playoffs finishing third in the South division. Their quarterback Jordan Ta’amu led the league in passing yards (2,014) and passing touchdowns (14). Ta’amu also led the team in rushing yards with 365 yards putting him ninth in the league in that category.
Memphis was previously a franchise in the first version of the USFL, as they played in the 1984 and 1985 seasons. They finished with a losing record in their first season at 7-11 but made the playoffs in their second season by going 11-7 before losing in the semifinals against the Oakland Invaders.
The most prominent player to play for them was Reggie White, who was drafted by the team and went on to be considered one of the greatest pass rushers in NFL history with the Eagles, Packers, and Panthers.
The Fox Sports website and official USFL website still have the Tampa Bay Bandits as one of the eight teams in the league. There’s no word on when it will become official or if all the players on the Bandits team will be transferred over to the Showboats team. The league filed for the Memphis Showboats trademark on November 1st to use for the USFL.
Many will find the move interesting as the USFL teams were not playing in their home cities for the 2022 season. There has been speculation about if they would do multiple hub cities for the 2023 season or have all teams play in their cities. This certainly points the signs toward Memphis potentially being a hub city or a single location for a team. The city is 3 and a half hours from Birmingham.
More news should be coming out soon regarding what locations the league will be playing in. Now fans will have to prepare for the idea that Memphis will be hosting USFL games next year. Birmingham’s excitement for their team should match the citizens of Memphis as it would be their first professional football team since 2019, when the Memphis Express of the AAF played.