The XFL will live on, thanks to another WWE legendary figure taking the majority stake in the football league — but this time it’s not Vince McMahon. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, RedBird Capital and Dany Garcia teamed up to purchase the XFL for approximately $15 million just hours before the once-bankrupt league was set for auction.
RedBird Capital is an investment firm that focuses on providing flexible and long-term capital to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, and the XFL will be its latest challenge. Garcia, Johnson’s business partner and ex-wife, will also be a stakeholder in the league.
The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval at a hearing this Friday, Aug. 7 and, assuming that closing conditions are satisfied, is expected to close on or shortly after Aug. 21.
“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,” Johnson said in a press 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.”
Johnson is the latest WWE figurehead to own the XFL after WWE chairman and Vince McMahon had two attempts at the league. McMahon formed a partnership with Dick Ebersol and NBC in 2001, which was run as a joint venture before the league folded after one season. McMahon, also the founder and owner of Alpha Entertainment, revived the league for the 2020 season, but that second attempt was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic after five weeks.
The league filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after suspending operations in April. Initially, McMahon’s XFL was optimistic that it would be able to return for a full season in 2021 and it kept its full-time employees on payroll. Due to the economic and sports shutdown as a result of the pandemic, the league was forced to cancel its revival.
“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity,” Garcia said in a press release. “It is the confluence of great passion, tradition and possibility. 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.”
In its bankruptcy filing from April, Alpha Entertainment listed the league’s assets and liabilities in the range of about $10 million to $50 million. McMahon spent $200 million of his own capital to revive the XFL in 2018.
Whether McMahon will have involvement in XFL 3.0 is unknown, but Johnson’s star power and television draw (he’s the executive producer for “The Titan Games” on NBC and HBO’s Ballers, along with a number of big-budgeted films) may be more-than-enough for the league to stick around for good.
“It is a privilege to partner with Dany and Dwayne on the acquisition of the XFL,” said Gerry Cardinale, Founder and Managing Partner of RedBird Capital. “Their track record in building dynamic businesses speaks for itself, and their vision and passion for developing the XFL as a world class sports and entertainment property will enable a new future for this organization.
“As their partner in acquiring and relaunching the XFL, RedBird will bring its own track record and experience in building world class companies in sports and live entertainment to help realize their vision.”