Just when you thought the XFL was dead (again) the upstart football league proves it has more lives than a cat! News is coming out that former WWE Star and now actor, Dwayne Johnson (along with a group of investors) have bought the league for 15 million dollars!
Johnson, an actor and producer who played college football at the University of Miami, teamed up with Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital to buy the league just hours before a planned auction was scheduled to begin.
They paid $15 million, splitting it evenly. Johnson’s business partner, Dany Garcia, who is also his ex-wife, will be a stakeholder as well.
The presence of Johnson continues pro wrestling’s involvement in the spring football league, which was founded—and funded—by WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon.
The XFL filed for bankruptcy in April after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of its inaugural season, which got off to a promising start in terms of television audience. The league had a broadcast agreement with Fox.
With live sports a reliable vehicle to deliver ratings, there’s a good chance a number of traditional TV networks—and perhaps streaming companies—would seek to add the XFL to their portfolios. Besides the league, networks would likely seek a tie-up with Johnson, who is the executive producer of “The Titan Games,’’ a sports competition reality series on NBC.
The XFL is the latest sports-related move for Cardinale and RedBird, which recently bought French soccer team Toulouse. In addition, Cardinale—along with Oakland A’s executive Billy Beane—created a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that’ll focus on buying companies in sports, media and data analytics.
The private equity firm is also an investor in the YES Network, the regional sports network that shows New York Yankees games, as well as On Location Experiences, which is partly owned by the NFL, and also OneTeam Partners, a tie-up that includes the unions that represent MLB and NFL players.
In its bankruptcy filing, Alpha Entertainment, the XFL’s parent, listed the league with assets and liabilities in the range of about $10 million to $50 million.
When the XFL came back it chose to focus more on a true sports based presentation and less of a sideshow presentation like it did in the early 2000s.
McMahon announced the XFL’s reboot in 2018, and spent two years developing the eight-team league.
The XFL drew more than 3 million viewers in its first week. The audience was about half that number in its fifth and final week before the shutdown.
Perhaps a fresh start (again) is exactly what the XFL needs. Also I would suggest moving LA and New York teams to more sports centric states like Oklahoma. LA and New York have some many things for the XFL to contend with. But if you move teams to sports starved cities like San Diego, you could develop a devoted fan base. Just my two cents.