The XFL will return to life, and Las Vegas, this spring. The alternative football league is now owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the former wrestler and actor who bought it out of receivership after it was folded for the second time by its founder, former World Wrestling Entertainment founder Vince McMahon.
Former Raiders player and coach Rod Woodson will serve as head coach of the as-yet-unnamed Vegas team,
“To all the fans in Las Vegas — we’re going to have some fun,” Woodson said in a statement. “Our XFL team is going to play fast, play physical, play hard, and play together. At the end of the day, we’re going to be winners. We’re going to enjoy the game of football, and we’re going to do it the Vegas way.”
The XFL’s other seven host cities will be Houston, San Antonio, and Arlington in Texas, plus Orlando, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington D.C. (Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Antonio were added to the lineup after New York, L.A. and Tampa Bay were dropped.) Las Vegas is the only host city to not yet announce a host stadium.
The First Two Fumbles
Las Vegas once had an XFL team, the Outlaws, who played at Sam Boyd Stadium during the spring of 2001. But that turned out to be the only season for that edition of the league.
Founded by McMahon and NBC Sports chair Dick Ebersol, the XFL was conceived as a way to combine the excitement of football with the showmanship and stunts of professional wrestling. But NBC reportedly pulled out of its two-year contract after the games drew the lowest ratings ever recorded for a major American TV network. The league folded soon thereafter.
McMahon tried rebooting the XFL in 2018. But after playing for only five weeks in 2020, the league was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic and filed for bankruptcy.
Rock For the Recovery
The assets of the second defunct XFL league were purchased later in 2020 for $15 million by The Rock, his ex-wife and business partner, Dany Garcia, and a consortium named RedBird Capital Partners. In addition to his more well-known roles as professional wrestler and actor, Johnson played defensive lineman for the Miami Hurricanes in college from 1990 to 1994.
“We’ve had a clear vision for the XFL — the values to instill, the diversity of our leaders, the innovation of the game, and how we want to deeply engage with our communities so they can help bring this vision to life,” Garcia said in a statement. “What brings a league to life is the passion of the fandom behind it. In each of these cities, we will co-create with our fans and build these teams from the ground up so that they represent the unique fabric of our communities.”
Some Cool is What The Rock is Cooking
None of the eight new team’s names have been announced. However, Johnson said in a statement that the league is “working on cool, new logos and innovative uniforms that match the dynamic and innovative vision of our league.”
All 43 games, which include two semifinal playoff games and a championship, will be aired by ABC, ESPN, and FX. The XFL’s first game is scheduled for Feb. 18, 2023, less than a week after Super Bowl LVII.
Game dates and times have not been released. But the XFL is selling ticket deposits starting at $50.
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