The future of the XFL is trending in the right direction, as Hollywood superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reportedly teamed up with the investment firm RedBird Capital Partners to purchase the football league for $15 million, according to a news release issued Monday morning.
Vince McMahon’s football league was off to a solid start early in 2020, averaging nearly 2 million TV viewers per game and $20 million in gross revenues, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut down the league five weeks in. The XFL then had to let go of nearly its entire workforce on April 10 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 13. This isn’t the first time the XFL was forced to shut down, as the league’s initial launch suffered the same fate back in 2001. However, McMahon was determined to get this league going and invested $200 million in its revival back in 2018, and it probably would’ve lasted had the pandemic not come around.
This new deal has to be approved in bankruptcy court on Friday, but if all goes well, it could be finalized before the end of August. According to reports, The Rock and Dany Garcia, who is his business partner and ex-wife, and RedBird Capital Partners, led by Gerry Cardinale, are expected to be 50/50 partners in the deal.
This is a testament to how difficult it has been for alternative football leagues to survive, as the AAF (Alliance of American Football) league also didn’t make it through one season in 2019.
The XFL was supposed to hit the auction block on Monday, but The Rock and his partners were able to get a deal done before then. It is unclear when the new owners plan to relaunch the league, as the pandemic has made things difficult for sports leagues. So far, the NBA and NHL seem to be having the most success with their bubble format, so that seems to make the most sense for the XFL. Here is what The Rock had to say about the plans for his new purchase:
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. 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.
The Rock played Division I college football for the University of Miami for four years and then became a global pro wrestling legend in McMahon’s WWE. Since he retired from his wrestling career, he has become one of the biggest and most successful actors in Hollywood.