When the COVID-19 pandemic led to sports leagues shutting down en masse back in March, the XFL was among those that ended their season for good. Unlike established leagues, the fledgling spring football league didn’t have the infrastructure nor the full enough backing of owner Vince McMahon to be willing to eat all of the losses from ending its first season — even with how successful they were.
And so, the league filed for bankruptcy and went to auction, where there were initially some rumblings McMahon himself might try to re-buy the league. However, in part due to the backlash from that potential plan going public, the WWE chairman insisted he would not be part of the auction process.
We had not heard anything about the XFL auction process since May, but on Monday word broke that while McMahon wouldn’t be involved, the XFL was staying in the WWE family. Former WWE superstar, Miami Hurricanes football player, and currently one of the world’s most popular actors, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, announced Monday that he and his partners Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale at Red Bird Capital had purchased the league.
With my trail blazing partner @DanyGarciaCo & Red Bird Capital, we have acquired the XFL.
With gratitude & passion I’ve built a career with my own two hands and will apply these callouses to our @xfl2020 brand.
Excited to create something special for the fans! #XFL #fullcircle pic.twitter.com/LprJ6HjglD
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 3, 2020
The Rock and company purchased the league for $15 million and got the deal done mere hours before the league went to auction as the only qualifying bid. Johnson will be equal stakeholders with Cardinale and Garcia, and as long as it clears through bankruptcy court this week, everything should be finalized by the end of the month.
“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity. It is the confluence of great passion, tradition and possibility” said Dany Garcia in a release. “Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built. Melding our expertise combined with our commitment to deliver exciting and inspiring unique content, has us all focused on developing the XFL brand into a multi-media experience that our athletes, partners and fans will proudly embrace and love.”
“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” said Dwayne Johnson, via release. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”
Getting The Rock on board to be the face of ownership will be huge for the XFL in terms of giving them some star power involved for a restarted second season, whenever that may be. Johnson has immense reach and popularity, particularly with the preferred demographic for a football league, and given the relative success of the XFL’s first season back in two decades prior to the pandemic, there’s plenty to work with once they decide on where and how to relaunch the league.