XFL Sells For $15M To Group Headlined By Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and RedBird Capital are buying the XFL out of bankruptcy, XFL President Jeffery Pollack said today, less than an hour before a planned auction was set to begin. They are paying $15M for the assets, plus agreeing to assume certain liabilities and pay up to $8.5 million to settle old defaults, according to a court filing. Dany Garcia, Johnson's business partner and ex-wife, also is on board. The deal is subject to bankruptcy court approval, which could come at a hearing Friday. Officials said it could close within three weeks. "This is a Hollywood ending to our sale process and the start of a fantastic new beginning for the XFL with the best possible ownership group going forward," Pollack said. In its bankruptcy filings, XFL parent Alpha Entertainment listed assets and liabilities both between $10-50M. XFL Founder Vince McMahon spent more than $200M attempting to relaunch the league over the past three years before the pandemic abruptly halted play less than halfway into its first season. The RedBird/Johnson group was the only qualified bidder so the auction was canceled, according a court filing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. At one point, the XFL’s banker said there were more than 20 potential bidders. "The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and (RedBird Capital Founder & Managing Partner) 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." PJT Partners acted as financial advisors to Garcia and Johnson.
WHAT'S NEXT: The new owners said in a press release said they had acquired "the ability to option live entertainment intellectual property for further expansion across sports, live events and original entertainment programming." While the league showed some promising viewership and attendance in its early weeks in February, TV ratings were declining before the pandemic. Any attempt to relaunch play under the XFL brand would have to confront difficult questions about the future of the pandemic. RedBird Capital has close ties to the NFL, having been an investor in NFL-founded On Location Experiences before it was sold to Endeavor, and OneTeam Partners, a collaboration with the NFLPA and MLBPA. Cardinale said, "It is a privilege to partner with Dany and Dwayne on the acquisition of the XFL. 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."