© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

St. Louis will host one of the teams in the XFL as the league tries again

Members of the XFL St. Louis BattleHawks practice in uniform
Carolina Hidalgo
St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the XFL St. Louis BattleHawks practice before their inaugural season started in 2020.

St. Louis will be one of the eight teams the XFL will field in 2023, as it tries, with new ownership, to become a viable professional football league.

League owners actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his ex-wife and business partner, Dany Garcia, announced Sunday night that St. Louis, along with Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle and Washington D.C., will field teams in the 2023 version of the league, set to kick off in February.

Details on the teams are sparse, including their names. The team referred to, for now, as “XFL St. Louis” will play in the Dome at America’s Center.

The 2020 version of St. Louis’ XFL team was the BattleHawks. They were among the league leaders in attendance before the season was canceled five games in because of the coronavirus pandemic. And their “Ka-Kaw” cheer became synonymous with the team.

“Let’s freaking go, St. Louis,” said Anthony Becht, head coach of the St. Louis team, to a chorus of boos from the in-person audience at the XFL meeting Sunday night in Dallas.

“I love it. I haven’t heard boos in a while, and I wanted to get that going,” Becht said.

Becht played as a tight end in the NFL for 11 years, including one season with the St. Louis Rams in 2008.

“We’re going to have a great time, build this brand and build a great team. So, to me, that’s the vision I see for my team and the league,” Becht said.

BattleHawks fans took to Twitter to express their enthusiasm that the league is returning.

“St. Louis Battlehawks 1st ever home game. Seriously one of the most fun sporting events I've been to,” wrote Twitter user Toast Dispatch.

“PLEASE, bring back the BattleHawks name. The name itself was fun and unique and the logo was genius,” wrote Augie Nash.

However, the lack of teams in New York and Los Angeles is fueling speculation that the league can’t be viable. The first iteration of the XFL lasted one season in 2001. Wrestling executive Vince McMahon owned the league and tried to separate it from the NFL through rules designed to make the game more fast paced.

The second version in 2020 was more traditional, but the cancellation of games in front of fans over COVID concerns was too much for the startup league. Johnson and Garcia purchased the bankrupt league in December 2021.

The XFL plans to have its season start on Feb. 18, 2023, one week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.