San Antonio welcomes the XFL

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mayor Ron Nirenberg talk San Antonio’s new team

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

SAN ANTONIO – Loyal San Antonio natives will no longer have to wait for the fall months to pack the Alamodome for football.

The XFL, a professional football league played in the late winter months and into the spring, has found a home in San Antonio with the Brahmas. 

In its first season, the XFL features eight teams spread across the country. The league has players from former top-tier college programs and former NFL athletes trying to prove they still have what it takes.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, his ex-wife and business partner Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners purchased the league for $15 million in 2020.

Of the eight teams in the XFL, San Antonio is one of three teams who do not share their city with an NFL team. The other two teams are the Orlando Guardians and St. Louis Battlehawks.

So, what makes San Antonio special? 

Despite being one of the biggest celebrities in the world, Johnson started his amateur fighting career in the very Alamodome the Brahmas now call home.

“I started my career here in San Antonio back when I was wrestling,” Johnson said to reporters on Sunday’s season opener. “It helped shape me as a rookie, just two months as a professional wrestler. I came right here to the Alamodome, and this is a tough place to come into.”

“If we create the right story and the right team, I think this city is really going to be hungry and passionate for it.”

Garcia, whose parents were immigrants from Cuba, understood the impact the team would have in a largely Hispanic-populated city. 

“The Latinx market in sports and as fandom is growing. It’s huge and it’s extremely important to us,” Garcia said.

The city of San Antonio is no stranger to football on the weekends.

UTSA has sat atop Conference USA in its last two seasons in fan attendance, leading the league with an average of 26,835 fans per game. With the love of football in the Alamo City, Mayor Ron Nirenberg expects the same level of fan dedication.

“We can once again see San Antonio on a national stage of what a great football town this is,” Nirenberg told the media during the Brahmas second quarter. “I think that’s something that we’ve all been wanting to demonstrate over the years. We seize the opportunity to do that. The XFL is here, and we’re going to make it a great success.”

San Antonio fans wasted no time in supporting their new home team. The new team sold out their first game with 24,245 fans in the Alamodome. According to, the Brahmas had double the attendance of the second-highest attended XFL game.

“It was gratifying to see the fans in the stands,” Nirenberg said. “Because that’s what we know: San Antonio shows up, they show out, they cheer for our home team.”

The confidence from Johnson and Garcia in both the city and its fans allows San Antonio to showcase the Alamo City as the face of the league.

Before the conclusion of the season-opening loss to the St. Louis Battlehawks, it was announced that the Alamodome would host the XFL’s first championship game on May 13.

“They can count on San Antonio to be a very successful city for the league, a showpiece for the city, for the league,” Nirenberg said. “Again, gratifying that they’re going to be playing their championship game here as a way to further advance the platform to the entire league.”

The national success from opening weekend in the XFL shows Johnson, Garcia and Gerry Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners’ commitment to turning the league around. From filing for bankruptcy in April of 2020 to being broadcasted on ESPN is a complete night-and-day difference.

The motivation for “The Rock” has always been there to drive his passion for football.

“I didn’t look at wrestling as the ticket for my way out. It was always football,” Johnson said to the media. “That never happened for me. It never happened for [Dany and me]. 1995 was our draft, and we waited in that house for two days [in] our little apartment for a call from the NFL that never came … that’s why football.”

Johnson understands the territory he is in with the new league in a city without a professional football team. 

Though, perhaps biased toward his wrestling debut or not, “The Rock” believes in giving San Antonio a chance.

“Look to me; you got to give it a shot,” Johnson said. “We wanted to take a shot. We did believe in it. We did have personal connections here that I never forgot … that helped shape and form. So we got to give it a shot.”

The Brahmas, along with the rest of the XFL, is under two months of practice and a unique set of rules, giving this first season a bit of a “trial year.” 

Though San Antonio may be overlooked as a football town, the statistics and fan craze are undeniable. Perhaps after the XFL’s debut season, the rest of the country will view San Antonio as not just a Spurs city but a sports city.

“San Antonio is the marquee city for the league. San Antonio is the marquee city for football in many ways,” Nirenberg said. “You see the enthusiasm of our teams, whether that’s UTSA or the other professional teams that we’ve had over the years. This is a sports city, and football is at the top of the list.”