Last year marked the return of the United States Football League (USFL), and Canton, Ohio, was at the center of the resurgence. Since its rebirth in 2022, Canton, also known as the Hall of Fame city, has been home to the Pittsburgh Maulers and the New Jersey Generals. It hosted the USFL playoffs and the championship game, both last year and this year, but will Canton continue to be a part of the league’s expansion plans?
In a revealing interview with the USFL President, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, the former Dallas Cowboy and three-time Super Bowl champion offered intriguing insights into the league’s future and the potential for expansion. “We’re in conversations with potential areas to expand into,” said Johnston, hinting at the USFL’s grand vision to transition all teams into their home markets.
As the league’s ambitions for expansion grow, questions arise regarding the league’s future in Canton. “What works best as we continue to grow that relationship with the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame Village?” pondered Johnston, addressing the unique challenge of the city lacking a home team. “We understand the challenges for New Jersey and Pittsburgh being in Canton, and there’s a number of things being discussed. How do we make that work the best way possible?”
Addressing the issue of teams bearing names different from their hub cities, Johnston was asked if potential rebranding in Canton could be on the horizon. “Those are the conversations that have been had within the USFL family as we look at the future. Might there be an Ohio designation? Or a city designation? What works best as we continue to grow that relationship with the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame Village?… Those definitely are conversations we’ve had. Nothing we’ve committed to, but to your point, and really the meat of this whole conversation, is getting our teams into the home markets.”
These remarks, although far from a solid commitment, offer a glimpse into possible changes to align teams with their hub cities more closely.
Apart from potential expansion plans, Johnston also acknowledged the role the Hall of Fame Village might play in the USFL’s future. As this key component continues to develop, he envisions it creating an affordable family experience on game day and extending beyond the football fan to captivate families. “It’s a unique approach, what they’re doing,” Johnston stated, appreciating the combination of family and football at the heart of the Village’s plans.
What remains clear is Johnston’s commitment to keeping Canton integral to the USFL’s future. His personal connection to the city and appreciation for its significance in professional football shines through. “To me, the meaning Canton has for professional football is too big for it not to be a part of what you’re doing. So, I will do everything I can to keep Canton a part of it,” affirmed Johnston.
As the league’s strategy unfolds, the business of USFL continues to adapt, promising an intriguing journey ahead. The uncertainty surrounding the league’s future in Canton remains, yet the city’s importance in football history and the commitment from league officials offer a glimmer of hope.
As conversations and plans for expansion continue, the USFL, its fans, and the city of Canton wait in anticipation.