The eight host cities for the XFL’s 2023 return were announced Sunday and will again include North Texas.
On July 24, executives with the XFL announced that Texas will be home to three of the eight teams, with Arlington, Houston, and San Antonio being selected. Other host cities are Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.
The football league, owned by actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his longtime business partner, former pro bodybuilder Dany Garcia, was initially founded in 2001 by WWE’s Vince McMahon, who sought to bring a pro-wrestling vibe to football.
After one season, the XFL lost one of its key sponsors, NBC, and ultimately folded shortly afterward. In 2018, McMahon made the decision to jumpstart the league with the goal of creating faster on-field action to provide a more engaging environment for fans.
The rebooted XFL kicked off in February 2020, but was forced to shut down after only five weeks of play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league filed for bankruptcy in April that year, clouding its future. However, Johnson and Garcia, who is also his ex-wife, purchased the league in August 2020, reviving the hopes of fans who wanted more football.
New York, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay are the only host cities not returning from the 2020 edition of the XFL. Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Antonio are the first-time host cities replacing them for the 2023 reboot.
Johnson and Garcia were in Arlington at Texas Live! on Sunday to announce the eight host cities. They also announced Arlington would serve as the XFL’s new “football operations hub” after reaching a three-year agreement with the city to provide the league with a centralized performance facility and multiple practice venues for preseason and in-week training for its eight teams.
All XFL teams will train in Arlington during the week before traveling to team markets for weekend games. The teams will use three local practice facilities: Northwest ISD Stadium, Southlake Carroll Dragon Stadium, and Vernon Newsom Stadium.
“The XFL has officially landed in the great football state of Texas,” said Johnson in a statement. “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% 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.”
In addition to announcing the eight host cities, stadiums and head coaches for each team were revealed, except for a stadium for the Las Vegas team, which is TBA.
The Arlington team will be led by longtime former head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners Bob Stoops, who coached the college team from 1999 to 2016. Stoops also coached the XFL’s Dallas Renegades during the 2020 edition of the league. Arlington’s XFL team will share the old Texas Rangers ballpark, now known as Choctaw Stadium, with FC Dallas for home games.
A familiar face for Cowboys fans will stalk the sidelines in Houston. Former Cowboys, Bills, Texans, and Broncos head coach Wade Phillips will lead the newly-formed Houston team, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Phillips last coached for the Los Angeles Rams as the defensive coordinator during the 2019 season. The Houston XFL team will play at TDECU Stadium.
San Antonio will also feature a well-known name as head coach. Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward will run the show at the Alamo. Ward retired from the NFL following the 2011 season. He began coaching in 2017 with the Steelers and accepted his first full-time coaching gig with the New York Jets in 2019. Ward was the wide receivers coach and special assistant head coach for Florida Atlantic University in 2021. The San Antonio XFL team will play at the Alamodome.
The stadiums and coaches for the five other host cities are listed below:
- Orlando: Camping World Stadium, coach Terrell Buckley
- Las Vegas: Stadium TBA, coach Rod Woodson
- Seattle: Lumen Field, coach Jim Haslett
- St. Louis: The Dome, coach Anthony Becht
- Washington D.C.: Audi Field, coach Reggie Barlow
The teams are still missing nicknames, but Johnson said, “We have been working on cool, new logos and innovative uniforms that match the dynamic and innovative vision of our league.”
“We can’t wait to share in the electrifying excitement from fans once they meet their new ‘hometown team,’” Johnson added.
The XFL is expected to kick off on February 18, 2023, and be broadcast across Disney networks, including ABC, ESPN, and FX.
In April, the XFL announced it partnered with the NFL Alumni Academy to provide training programs for players who may have what it takes to make it to the highest level of pro football.