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Another pro football team comes to Las Vegas

Updated July 25, 2022 - 9:16 am

The XFL is giving Las Vegas another try, announcing Sunday that it is one eight cities that will have a team.

Rod Woodson, a Hall of Famer who has lived in Las Vegas for three years, will be the coach in the league that is co-owned by action-movie actor and former WWE star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“I think we have all seen in the short period of time how the fans in Vegas back their own,” Woodson said. “When the Golden Knights came (in 2017) and it had the draw that it had, I think it opened a lot of eyes. I think it was great to see the fans and the residents so hungry for that type of sports entertainment. Hopefully, that will be the same thing for the XFL.”

Woodson said preliminary discussions were to play at Allegiant Stadium when the season begins Feb. 18, 2023, but nothing has been finalized.

Whether the Raiders would object to having another pro football team at Allegiant remains to be seen. But the XFL and NFL have a research and development partnership, and Seattle will play in the same venue as the Seahawks. Also, Woodson’s ties to the Raiders — he played for them in 2002 and 2003 — likely don’t hurt.

Sam Boyd Stadium is no longer in use, and it’s unlikely the team could play at Las Vegas Ballpark.

“Never say never but probably would be very challenging because of preseason baseball and our regular season,” Aviators president Don Logan said in a text message.

Woodson said the team nickname and colors haven’t been announced. “But I heard that we have the best uniforms by far in the XFL,” he said.

All eight teams will practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area the first season. But unlike the United States Football League, the XFL teams will play games in home stadiums. All USFL games this past spring were played in Birmingham, Alabama.

Woodson said the hope is that teams also will practice in their home cities by the second season.

This is the third go-around for the XFL, which relaunched in February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to end the season after five weeks and file for bankruptcy protection that April. Former WWE owner Vince McMahon sold the XFL to Johnson that year.

“Having Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital as the owners of the XFL is a strong structure for the XFL,” Woodson said. “It’s more sustainable that way than prior, but also I think we’ll put a good product on the field because of that.”

Las Vegas was a key part of the XFL when it originally launched in 2001. A sellout crowd of more than 30,000 watched the Las Vegas Outlaws beat the New York-New Jersey Hitmen 19-0 in the nationally televised game at Sam Boyd.

Outlaws running back Rod Smart, who had “HE HATE ME” on the back of his jersey where the name usually goes, became an instant conversation piece.

Allowing players to put just about whatever they wanted on their jerseys was part of the XFL’s strategy to borrow from the WWE’s edginess. The XFL, however, lasted only that season.

“Hopefully, this 3.0 will be extremely successful putting a good product on the field, and we have a lot of fun doing it the Vegas way,” Woodson said.

In addition to Las Vegas, the XFL will have teams in Arlington (Texas), Houston, Orlando (Florida), St. Louis, San Antonio, Washington, D.C. and Seattle.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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