Dany Garcia is springing forward with a football merger…
The 55-year-old Cuban American businesswoman, professional bodybuilder and producer and her ex-husband Dwayne Johnson have revealed plans for the United Football League, the new spring pro football league born from the merger of the XFL and USFL.
During an appearance this morning on Fox’s NFL on Fox, Garcia and Johnson announced that the UFL’s debut season will begin March 30, 2024 with a game between the Arlington Renegades and Birmingham Stallions, the previous champions from each league.
More details are expected soon regarding teams and markets.
Last year was Johnson and Garcia’s only season as co-owners with RedBird Capital Partners of the resurrected XFL, which was competing with the USFL for NFL-offseason eyeballs.
The USFL itself was in its second season of its own revival, operating with a joint broadcast deal with both NBC and Fox, with the latter also holding a minority stake in the league.
A release today noted five UFL partners: former XFL owners Johnson, Garcia and RedBird’s Gerry Cardinale, Fox Sports (led by CEO Erik Shanks) and ESPN (led by chairman Jimmy Pitaro). ESPN was the XFL’s broadcast partner last season.
Russ Brandon, former president and CEO of the XFL, will be president and CEO of the UFL. Daryl Johnston, former USFL President of Football Operations, will lead football ops.
A promo logo suggests games will be played on ABC, ESPN, Fox and FS1.
The XFL and USFL originally announced their intent to merge in September after low-key seasons for each.
The USFL Championship game in July drew about 1.16 million viewers on NBC, while the XFL title game a few weeks later pulled in 1.43 million viewers on ABC.