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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The XFL has launched a Hail Mary to find a new owner, one month after the filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Driving the news: Investment bank Houlihan Lokey is managing the process, with letters of intent due by June 12, according to a pitch deck obtained by Axios. Formal bids are due on July 6.

The basic sales pitch is similar to what we're seeing from all sorts of other cash-strapped companies in all sorts of other industries: We were doing fine until the pandemic, and could therefore do fine again once it's over.

  • The XFL claims to have been on page to generate $46 million in revenue during its debut season, before it was cut short.
  • This includes average game attendance of nearly 20,000, with an attendee net promoter score of 66. Plus 1.9 million average broadcast viewers for nationally distributed games.
  • Both attendance and viewership were declining as the season progressed — something not noted in the pitch deck — but not the sort of crashes seen by the XFL in its first incarnation or by the more recent upstart failure of the Alliance of American Football.

The big question: Will anyone really be willing to buy the entire league, as opposed to scooping up select assets?

  • Industry investors I speak with are skeptical, but also acknowledge that sports sometimes entices unknown or unexpected suitors.
  • "There are lots of people who are very rich but not rich enough to own an NFL team, so maybe someone will see this as the next best thing at a bargain price," says one investor who is not considering an XFL bid.

The bottom line: Any buyer would have two choices. The first would be to just wait out the pandemic, and hope to resume operations next spring. The second would be to reimagine the XFL within the pandemic context, perhaps as a made-for-television product that eschews in-person fans altogether.

  • That latter option is something that only a bankrupt league, with very few fixed costs left, could seriously entertain for the long-term.

Go deeper: The XFL is dead. Long live the XFL

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

CDC panel recommends Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A key panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people 65 years old and older, as well as those at high risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: The approval is the near-final step in making the booster shots available to tens of millions of Americans, and comes a day after the FDA approved Pfizer boosters for the two groups. CDC director Rochelle Walensky is expected to announce her recommendation soon.

DHS temporarily suspends use of horse patrol in Del Rio

U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio, Texas a DHS spokesperson confirmed.

Why it matters: The suspension comes after images showing border patrol agents whipping at and charging their horses at migrants surfaced earlier in the week, prompting widespread criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

Southwest drought is worst on record, NOAA finds

In a stark new report, a team of NOAA and independent researchers found the 2020-2021 drought across the Southwest is the worst in the instrumental record, which dates to 1895.

Why it matters: They also concluded that global warming is making it far more severe, primarily by increasing average temperatures, which boosts evaporation.