San Antonio named one of eight host cities for XFL; Hines Ward to serve as head coach

The football league is returning under new ownership

ARLINGTON – Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? Movie star and former WWE superstar Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is bringing professional football back to San Antonio via the XFL.

The twice-failed football league is returning under new ownership. In August 2020, Johnson, his business partner and ex-wife Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital Partners purchased the XFL for $15 million.

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With a new investor and a new vision, the XFL will take another run at attracting spring football fans. The league held a town hall meeting at Texas Live in Arlington Sunday night to officially announce the eight cities and stadiums for the 2023 season.

They are: San Antonio, Arlington, Houston, Seattle, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Orlando and Washington D.C.

This marks the first time San Antonio has hosted a professional football team since the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football in 2019. The AAF folded after filing for bankruptcy midway through its inaugural season.

“In the time leading up to the announcement there was a lot of excitement,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told KSAT 12 Sports. “The [XFL] recognizes, as I think the whole sports kingdom does, that San Antonio is primed and ready to step up and increase its profile in professional athletics.”

The three Texas franchises were represented by their head coaches together on stage. Hall of Fame Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward will lead San Antonio, former Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips will head Houston and former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops will take charge of Arlington.

All three engaged in friendly trash talk in front of the fans with the hopes of establishing a rivalry within the Lone Star State.

“I know how competitive Texas is, so I’m going to put it out there right now: Go San Antonio! We’re going to bring home the Texas state title,” Ward said. “I want all of you [Arlington fans] to boo! When we come here to Arlington and go to Houston, I want to hear all the boos because I guarantee you in the Alamodome, we’re going to boo you.”

Ward is no stranger to San Antonio. In 2018, he joined the Alliance of American Football League as the Players Relations Executive. Hines visited San Antonio to talk with city officials prior to the city landing the San Antonio Commanders.

Now, Hines is coming back to lead San Antonio in the XFL.

“We know Hines,” Nirenberg said. “He was here in San Antonio a few years ago, and I got to visit with him about the city, what it brings, the excitement for professional football. He got to know our sports world and our sports fans quite well. I was very excited to see that Hines is going to be our coach. I think he’s going to bring a little excitement. I think he’s already got the San Antonio swagger. He’s already calling it for San Antonio in season one of the XFL. He’s going to fit right in here, and I’m looking forward to seeing him back in San Antonio.”

The XFL plans to kick off on Feb. 18, 2023, less than a week after Super Bowl LVII.

The league signed a five-year TV deal with Disney. Each season’s 43 games will be aired and streamed across ABC, ESPN, and FX.

About the Authors:

Larry Ramirez joined the KSAT 12 sports team in October 2004.