Tempe to host XFL showcase at Sun Devil Stadium in spring 2023

Actor Dwayne Johnson, second from left, has a long-time interest in the XFL. He is now one of the returning league owners in 2023. Tempe is one of six cities that will host an XFL showcase this summer. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Allsport via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The XFL was five weeks into its revamped season when the world came to a screeching halt in 2020. The professional spring American football league, which returned 19 years after its inaugural season in 2001, was shut down again .

Now, under the new ownership of Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia, the league with ever-evolving reputation is set to make another comeback in February. A stage of the pre-season process will take place at Sun Devil Stadium on July 22.

Tempe is one of six cities to host an XFL showcase this summer. The purpose of the one-day evaluation is to give players the opportunity to try out and hope to be invited to the league player draft.

“I think people looked at the short tenure of (the XFL in 2020) and said, ‘Oh, this could work,'” former XFL commissioner Oliver Luck said. “It’s really about the quality of play and if you have the type of players who play exciting football, because that’s what the fans love. I think people love watching football. It’s really become our national pastime.

The Spring Football Leagues have been a trial and error operation. The unique aspect of these leagues is the space they have to experiment with different rules in order to capture an audience. The XFL has specialized in innovation on and off the field, doing everything from allowing forward double passes to having Xbox controllers in the instant replay booth.

Sun Devil Stadium is no stranger to the spring football landscape. In 2019, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) had one of its eight member teams, the Arizona Hotshots, located in the Valley. The Hotshots, named for the Granite Mountain Hotshots, played their home games on the ASU campus before the league went out of business on April 17 of that year.

“I’ve always thought the biggest challenge in all of the different spring leagues has been creating an almost immediate bond (between the fans and the teams) because sport is all about emotion,” Luck said. “I think when most people watch a sporting event, they root for this player, or this player, this team or this team. It’s hard to do when the team is brand new.

Currently, the XFL has announced the coaching staff, but not the national markets for its eight teams. That leaves room for Arizona to host another spring league team.

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“I think Phoenix would be as good as any other city. It’s a good market,” Luck said. sort of the busiest sports market, if you will, compared to some of the other cities in the country.

Luck also mentioned that the weather in the Valley is often ideal during the season months for spring football and that could also play a role.

The XFL has showcases planned at the University of Maryland, Jackson State (Mississippi) and IMG Academy (Florida). The league also traveled to Johnson’s home state of Hawai’i.

“The XFL is about being at the intersection of dreams and opportunity,” Johnson said in a press release. “Our goal is to make football more accessible to more players, and our highly experienced team of coaches and personnel managers are ready to help make those professional football dreams come true.”

Registration is currently sold out on the XFL website for the remaining showcases in Arizona and Texas. There is a google form to join the waiting list on the official league website