WWE CEO Vince McMahon announced on Thursday that his professional football league, the XFL, would reform and begin play in the spring of 2020.
The original XFL lasted one year (2001), and is remembered for some of its off-the-wall antics, including cheerleaders who looked more like strippers and players wearing nicknames on their jerseys, such as the memorable “He Hate Me.”
“There are seven months of no football, and there are 70 million fans,” McMahon said. “Right now is a perfect opportunity, and I always wanted to bring it back.”
McMahon divested WWE stock last month, $100 million worth, in order to fund the new league through a new company, Alpha Entertainment.
“$100 million to start with is a little too rich for WWE as far as investment is concerned,” McMahon said, when asked why he was not using WWE to start the league. WWE, being a public company, may have taken a stock dip had it been revealed the company was investing $100 million into a football league that already failed once.
As for the WWE, McMahon said there would be no crossover between the wrestling promotion and the new XFL. He also said that there were lessons learned from the first iteration of the league.
“The most important thing we learned was about the quality of the play,” he said. “We have two years to get it right.”
As for television broadcast rights, nothing was announced yet. WWE’s broadcast rights expire in Sept. 2019 with NBC Universal.
McMahon said the new XFL would also be innovative in the way that it speeds up the game. He said that they were considering doing away with halftime, and ideally they would like to get the games to be played in two hours. “Two hours is a reasonable amount of time that people will spend on something,” said McMahon, who promotes a weekly three-hour Monday Night Raw with WWE, by the way.
McMahon also said that players will have to stand for the national anthem and that players with arrest records will be ineligible for the new league, “even a DUI,” McMahon said.
Potential cities were not announced, but McMahon said that it will be a single entity that owns all of the teams — Alpha Entertainment — and they were aiming for eight teams in the inaugural season.
According to McMahon, this will take nothing away from his duties running WWE. He also said that he will not be the face of the league, and there would be executives hired to run the league.