An ownership group backed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, professional bodybuilder and businesswoman Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital have won the bid to purchase Alpha Entertainment LLC, parent company to the XFL.
The deal, which is subject to court approval on Aug. 7, is worth approximately $15 million – if everything checks out, the sale is expected to be finalized around Aug. 21. Alpha Entertainment’s bankruptcy filing listed the league with assets and liabilities in the range of about $10 million to $50 million.
With the sale, the group “secures the ability to option live entertainment intellectual property for further expansion across sports, live events and original entertainment programming,” according to an announcement.
“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. “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.”
WWE founder Vince McMahon, in partnership with NBC, first launched the XFL in 2001, which was marketed as a rougher, professional wrestling-esque football league.
However, the effort failed a year later. McMahon then personally spent over $200 million to relaunch the eight-team league in 2018, this time with a more NFL-like approach but in the spring.
The 2020 season kicked off in February and generated significant buzz, averaging 1.87 million TV viewers through its first five weeks. It also introduced or advanced several broadcast features, such as integrating betting lines into the broadcast and scorebug, as well as deepening broadcaster’s access to players on-field.
The league was not able to outlast the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and ceased operations in mid-April, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
XFL COO and president Jeffrey Pollack, who oversaw the sale, said that the Johnson group acquisition gives the sale a storybook ending.
“We are grateful for today’s outcome,” Pollack said. “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 XFL is pitching a 12-week “made-for-TV” 2021 season, ESPN reported in June.
Johnson, a professional wrestler and former football player-turned-acting mogul, keeps wrestling tied to the league. He was the world’s highest-paid actor in 2019 – earning $89.4 million – according to Forbes.
RedBird founder and managing partner Gerry Cardinale has been involved with a number of high-profile sports endeavors, including the YES Network, the New York Yankees’ regional sports network and On Location Experiences with the National Football League.
It is also a partner of OneTeam Partners with the Players’ Associations of the NFL, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, United States Women’s National Soccer Team and Women’s National Basketball Association.
Garcia is chairwoman and CEO of The Garcia Companies and TGC Management. She and Johnson, who were previously married, also founded Seven Bucks Productions, a company involved with creating original releases for television, film, emerging technologies, and digital networks.