Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners have purchased bankrupt football league the XFL for approximately $15 million.
Founded by Johnson’s old boss WWE CEO Vince McMahon, the NFL competitor was scheduled to go to bankruptcy auction Monday, a sale that has now been canceled following Johnson, Garcia and RedBird’s acquisition of XFL parent company, Alpha Entertainment.
“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” XFL president and COO Jeffrey Pollack said in a statement Monday. “This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and it is an exciting new chapter for the league. Dwayne, Dany and Gerry are a dream team ownership group and the XFL is in the best possible hands going forward.”
The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval at a hearing Friday and 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, a former WWF/WWE Superstar, 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.”
Garcia added: “For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity. 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.”
The XFL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, after shutting down and laying off its employees. In a Delaware bankruptcy court filing, the XFL listed between $10 million and $50 million in debts and an equal amount in assets.
The league’s return got off to a good start in February, averaging more than 3 million viewers across its opening weekend. But ratings tapered off in the following weeks. On March 20, the XFL ended its season early amid the spread of COVID-19.
McMahon announced the XFL’s relaunch back in January 2018, promising a “fan-centric, innovative experience” that includes “shorter, fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment.” The first edition of the XFL was a disaster for McMahon and NBC, which aired the league’s only season in 2001. The original XFL was beset by poor play and even worse TV ratings — in 2001, NBC did not yet have “Sunday Night Football,” which aired on ESPN at the time.