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New spring football league to play title game in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is no stranger to professional spring football leagues, and though the city doesn’t have a team in the newest incarnation, it is set to host the first two championship games.

The city signed a contract with the Alliance of American Football, an eight-team league that is set to have each team play a 10-game schedule beginning Feb. 9. The title game is April 27 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Fans inside the stadium will be able to wager through the MGM Resorts mobile app.

“There was nowhere else you could do it,” AAF CEO and co-founder Charlie Ebersol said. “Las Vegas is the center of the universe when it comes to sports betting and sort of the energy around what we’re building.”

The AAF is the latest attempt to form a second major football league in the United States, but Ebersol said his will not compete with the NFL. He said the standard player contract contains an out if an NFL opportunity comes along.

More than 630 players have signed up for the AAF, and the average one has two years of NFL experience. They will be coached by such notable names at Steve Spurrier, Mike Singletary and Dennis Erickson.

As for Las Vegas receiving an expansion team, Ebersol sounded open to the idea, touting the city’s support of the Golden Knights and Aces and the Raiders’ move in 2020.

“The city has clearly demonstrated that it’s a sports city, and I think that has not been lost on us,” he said. “We’ve been overwhelmed with the number of cities that have asked us to come and bring teams to the city in the near future, so we’re looking at expansion pretty seriously right now across the country, and certainly Las Vegas is one of those cities.”

Las Vegas has experience with pro leagues, including the XFL. Ebersol directed an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary about the rise and fall of the XFL, which lasted just the 2001 season but influenced how football is viewed on TV. His father, Dick, partnered with Vince McMahon to create the XFL.

“We looked at all the previous spring leagues,” Ebersol said. “I spent a lot of time before we even started this process doing research. We have a lot of people from the previous spring leagues who work for us in different ways and have given us internal insight. I lived one of the previous spring leagues with my father. I think it’s a true statement to say that I look to history to educate us on what we’re doing right and what we could do wrong, and ultimately I think each one of the leagues offers a very specific lesson that can be applied to what we’re doing.”

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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