The XFL has been sold and once again, its ownership group includes someone with heavy ties to professional wrestling in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
On Monday morning, Scott Soshnick of Sportico was the first to report that Johnson and business partner Dany Garcia is part of a team with Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital that purchased the league prior to a scheduled auction.
The purchase price is being reported as $15 million that Sportico reports that was split evenly among the team making the purchase.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert has the following quote from Johnson:
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.
Cardinale is the founder and managing partner of RedBird Capital. He previously worked at Goldman Sachs for 20 years. RedBird Capital describes itself as a “private investment firm focused on building high-growth companies with flexible, long-term capital in partnership with our Entrepreneur & Family Office Network.”
This past April, XFL parent company Alpha Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following the suspension of the XFL’s operations and laying off most of its staff.
The bankruptcy filing listed the XFL’s assets and liabilities is each in the range of $10-50 million.
The XFL’s first iteration occurred in 2001, one year after Vince McMahon announced plans to form the league. He later partnered with NBC with the league folding after one season despite solid television viewership during the first week but gradually plummeted. McMahon made the announcement in January 2018 that he was reviving the league with two years of planning before it re-launched.
Week 1 of the revamped XFL saw viewership average 3,188,000 across four games on ABC, Fox, and ESPN. They also delivered an average of 1,333,000 viewers in the coveted 18-49 demographic.
By Week 5, network viewership averaged 1,522,000 and their cable games on ESPN & FS 1 averaged 800,000 viewers.
In a filing from this past May, McMahon’s legal representatives stated that McMahon put “at least” $200 million of his own money in the league, according to a report from ESPN that month. They included a deposition that was footnoted in the filing from McMahon indicating he would not be attempting to buy back the league:
I don’t know why that’s out there, making me out to be the bad guy, I’m going to buy the XFL back for pennies on the dollar, basically. That helped me move into the direction of, ‘I’m not going to be a bidder, not going to have anything to do with it.’ I do hope that someone will pay a lot of money for it, and I do hope that it will survive.