can you smell what the rock is cookin'?
San Antonio sports fans who’ve been starved for pro football don’t have long to wait.
Superstar Dwayne Johnson’s rebooted XFL football league will launch in 2023, with the Alamodome taking center stage for local games. The new XFL season kicks off February 18, 2023, with a yet-to-be-named San Antonio team calling what used to be the Spurs stadium in the early ’90s home turf. Former NFL star Hines Ward will serve as the inaugural San Antonio coach.
XFL chairwoman and owner Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson, noted superstar owner, made the kickoff date and venue announcement at an XFL town hall event hosted at Texas Live! in Arlington, on July 24. Texas is home to three of the eight teams in the league with other teams located in Houston, Arlington. Orlando, Florida; Las Vegas; St. Louis, Missouri; and Washington, D.C. are also represented.
Season tickets are available now; games will be broadcast on ESPN.
“I’m psyched to reveal the cities that our players will have the chance to represent and compete in,” said Johnson in a statement. “This is another massive moment for the XFL, and I’m ready to feel the electricity our dedicated fans will bring to these iconic venues. There is great energy building within our league and there is still much more to come… and I can promise it’s going to be worth the wait.
“We have been working on fresh, new logos and uniforms – even working with some of the team names you already know – that will match the dynamic and innovative vision of our league. We see you, we hear you and your excitement fuels us to continue to bring you the absolute best. We have just under seven months until kickoff and the countdown is officially on,” Johnson added.
One selling point for the new XFL is its coaching talent. Pro football fans will recognize Ward as the charismatic, gritty, and crucial wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ward won two Super Bowls with the team and was also named Super Bowl MVP in 2005.
He was beloved in the Steel City for his willingness to block and do dirty work in an era marked by fellow receivers who were criticized as being prima donnas. If Ward brings anything from his playing days, San Antonio fans can expect a tough-as-nails team with a strong offensive presence.
Other notable football XFL names include Wade Phillips, who takes over in Houston and, as a longtime pro football presence and son of legendary coach Bum Phillips, is considered Texas football royalty. Hall of Fame and Super Bowl defensive back Rod Woodson (Las Vegas), and longtime college coach Bob Stoops (Arlington) are among other stars leading the new teams.
Promising “world-class” and global football, with “innovative” rules and a “360-degree” and “fan-first” experience, the rebooted XFL is owned by Garcia, Johnson, and Gerry Cardinale of RedBird Capital Partners. Bringing Hollywood superpower and credentials, Johnson has been credited for delivering buzz, flash, and big names to the new league — as well as bringing big partners to the table.
“What’s different here, is that not only do you have folks involved who are quite established within the entertainment and sports industry already, but you have an organization that's going to work in coordination with the NFL,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg tells News 4 San Antonio.
“The XFL has officially landed in the great football state of Texas,” said Johnson. “We are bringing a new kind of football experience to fans, players and partners, harnessing the power of modern technology, content and interactivity to create a new standard for the future of sports and live event entertainment. We are 100-percent committed to taking care of our players, and our new Texas Hub will ensure that they all receive top-notch training and development while also getting an opportunity to build individual brands and shine.”