Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is now a part-owner of the XFL.
Johnson and business partner Dany Garcia have teamed up with Gerry Cardinale and RedBird Capital Partners to purchase the league’s parent company for roughly $15 million, the private investment firm announced in a news release Monday.
The parent company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to shutter after just five weeks of play. It was previously due to be up for auction Monday, before Johnson’s group finalized the 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,” Johnson said in a statement.
“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.”
It is not immediately clear when or how Johnson’s group will aim to revive the XFL. The eight-team league laid off its employees after suspending operations in early April.
Before embarking on his career as an actor, Johnson, 48, played college football at the University of Miami and spent eight years as a professional wrestler. The XFL, coincidentally, was previously owned by Vince McMahon, the head of World Wrestling Entertainment.
According to RedBird Capital’s news release, the transaction is subject to approval from a Delaware bankruptcy court later this week. The deal is expected to be finalized on or around Aug. 21.
“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” Jeffrey Pollack, the XFL’s president and COO, said in a statement. “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league.”
Monday’s announcement will bring new life to the second iteration of the XFL, which showed promising signs of growth before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States earlier this year.
With former NCAA executive and pro quarterback Oliver Luck at the helm, the league positioned itself as a spring complement to the NFL, a proving ground for borderline players and a testing ground for new rules — including a tiered extra-point system and a scheme for kickoffs that was designed to be safer for players. (Luck has since sued McMahon for wrongful termination.)
The XFL drew larger crowds than its spring football predecessor, the Alliance of American Football, and benefitted from national television agreements with ESPN and Fox Sports.
According to bankruptcy filings, the league generated about $14 million in revenue through the first 3 1/2 weeks of its season and lost roughly $27 million in gameday revenue alone by cutting its season short due to COVID-19.
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