St. Louis hosting the UFL Championship was ‘Earned’

St. Louis fans at a game with the Vegas Vipers visiting the St Louis Battlehawks at The Dome at Americas Center on April 8th, 2023 in St. Louis, MO. (© Alexis Knight/XFL)
St. Louis fans at a game with the Vegas Vipers visiting the St Louis Battlehawks at The Dome at Americas Center on April 8th, 2023 in St. Louis, MO. (© Alexis Knight/XFL)

On Thursday March 13, 2024, when the UFL announced that The Dome at America’s Center, home of the St. Louis Battlehawks, would be the host site of the 2024 UFL Championship Game on June 16, 2024, many felt the decision was obvious. After all, the Battlehawks had drawn some of the best crowds in 2023, both in size and exuberance. It seemed that the decision must have been clear.

According to Daryl “Moose” Johnston, UFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, the decision to host the game was based on more than past history.

In an interview on KTRS 550 St. Louis radio, Johnston said, “I really feel like it was earned.”

“One of the things that we try to do for our players is create that professional environment for them, to prepare in, and to perform in. And the one spot that we don’t have any say, is the game day experience,” Johnston explained. “For us on the USFL side, we keep our eyes on the competition, and we would watch the St. Louis games, and we were very envious of what was created there. It’s that situation where you’ve got one of our market cities that has a tremendous support of their teams. And we felt that should be rewarded. So it was kind of an easy group decision on where to go for the inaugural championship game for the UFL, just because of what St. Louis did all last season for the XFL.”

With the UFL championship game in St. Louis, the league has an opportunity to have a game played where the atmosphere looks good on a television screen with audiences to hear and see the raucous St. Louis fans supporting the league. It has to be a big selling point, for television partners to be broadcasting that type of game environment.

Moose Johnston certainly thinks so.

“The one thing that we continually hear is, ‘it’s not just the numbers.'” Johnston said. “We look at the (St. Louis) attendance numbers, 38,000 for the opening game of the season last year, over 175,000 during the course of the season for the home games. But, everybody talks about the vibe that’s inside, and the energy. Just the uniqueness that Battlehawks fans have brought to the stadium on game day. So, that’s what we want to experience.”

“That’s something that’s going to be great for our players, it’s going to translate onto television with the broadcast. It’s going to be a great environment for our inaugural championship game,” Johnston said.

With such energy in The Dome, would the UFL consider making St. Louis the permanent home of the UFL championship for the years to come?

“When we look at this one, it’s kind of an earned thing,” Johnston said. “What I really want is to take a long hard look and see if we come up with a metric where depending on the configuration of the stadium, we can get everything kind of on a level playing field and let this continue to be an earned an opportunity to host the playoff game for the following season.”

The 2024 UFL season kicks off on Saturday March 30 with double-header broadcast on FOX, the Birmingham Stallions at the Arlington Renegades at 1PM (ET) and the St. Louis Battlehawks at the Michigan Panthers 4PM (ET).

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