ST. LOUIS – Coming soon to a football field near you: The rebirth of the St. Louis Battlehawks.

The 2023 XFL season kicks off this weekend with the Battlehawks visiting the San Antonio Brahmas on Sunday, Feb. 19. Three consecutive road games are planned before the home opener on Sunday, March 12.

As St. Louis prepares to welcome back a professional football team to its growing sports landscape, here are five things worth knowing about the Battlehawks franchise.

1. Another chapter of STL football history

A century’s length of St. Louis football history lives on as the Battlehawks get set for their second go-around. The city was granted its first NFL team in 1923 as the St. Louis All-Stars, then another in 1934 as the St. Louis Gunners. Both lasted only one season.

St. Louis acquired the NFL Cardinals franchise from Chicago in 1960 and “The Big Red” era lasted from 1960-1987. The Cardinals moved to Arizona amid stadium battles, which left St. Louis without an NFL team for eight years.

The NFL Rams then moved to St. Louis in 1995 and won Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, an era best known as “The Greatest Show on Turf.” After a snapped stadium clause, change in ownership, and a prolonged stretch of losing, the Rams officially relocated back to Los Angeles in 2016.

St. Louis has been without an NFL franchise ever since, but the Battlehawks debuted in 2020 and gave St. Louis their first non-NFL professional football team of the 21st century. The region has also hosted some smaller avenues of professional football in the past, including the St. Louis Stampede of the Arena Football League in the 1990s and the River City Rage and Raiders in St. Charles.

2. A comeback! Years in the making

Following the Rams move, Vince McMahon reformed the XFL from a pilot version in 2001 and welcomed St. Louis as a franchise for the league’s 2020 revamp. The Dome at America’s Center, despite recent contention from Rams ownership, was viewed as a desirable location by XFL standards. With St. Louis, the XFL also had a chance to capitalize from empty-nested football fans.

The Battlehawks played five games at the dome, finishing 3-2 before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season. St. Louis dominated defensively at a league-best clip of 15.4 points allowed per game and averaged a league-best 28,500 fans each home contest. The pandemic marked an unfortunate end to the XFL’s first attempted comeback and spelled uncertainty for football’s future in St. Louis.

Well-known entertainer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson led the charge to bring back the XFL for 2023, granting St. Louis a team once again and announcing the return of the Battlehawks team name late last year.

To rebrand the upcoming season as a new era, St. Louis no longer capitalizes the “H” iin Battlehawks like it had in 2020. Also, the Battlehawks uniforms come with slightly more modernized numbers and lettering, while the wings of the team logo are a little more sharp and condensed in design.

3. Traditions

One major identity of the Battlehawks team and fan base is the “Ka-Kaw!” chant. The earliest origins of it date back to first season opener in February 2020. While fans made signs and screamed “Kroenke Sucks” against the former Rams owner in the game’s early stages, the intensity was met with chants of “Ka-Kaw.” In present day, the battle cry represents how football fans united around a new team after stayed resilient after losing an NFL franchise.

Similar to Rams games, fans took advantage of some pregame tailgating opportunities in 2020 in vacant lots nearby the dome. Some activities from the last run included BBQ, smashing piñatas (some customized as Kroenke), shotgunning beers and dancing around the streets in costumes.

The Battlehawks have yet to announce guidance for this year’s tailgate experience, though the first home game is still roughly a month away and that is likely to be determined. One Facebook fan group, called the STL Battlehawks Battle Squadron, is closely following new trends for the season.

4. Experienced team

The XFL is mostly designed to give players opportunities they might not have on an NFL stage. That said, a few coaches and players bring some valuable NFL experience to the table.

Battlehawks head coach Anthony Becht spent 12 seasons as an NFL tight end from 2000 to 2011, including the 2008 campaign with the then-St. Louis Rams. Becht has also previously served as a tight ends coach for the American football franchise San Diego Fleet.

Another notable member on his coaching staff played hero in the Rams’ 2000 Super Bowl run. Ricky Proehl, who came up with a late game-winning catch in the NFC Championship, will help fellow wide receivers learn tricks of the trade.

As for the team, quarterback A.J. McCarron, running back Brian Hill and wide receivers Marcell Ateman and Darrius Shepherd all start their XFL journeys with experience in NFL games. Defensive leaders, like Travis Feeney and Lakiem Williams have also made rounds at various NFL training camps.

5. How to attend or watch

The Battlehawks will host five home games this season at the Dome At America’s Center. That includes the following dates, times, opponents:

  • Sunday, March 12 vs. Arlington Renegades (3 p.m. CT)
  • Saturday, March 18 vs. D.C. Defenders (6 p.m. CT)
  • Saturday, April 8 vs. Vegas Vipers (Noon CT)
  • Sunday, April 16 vs. Seattle Sea Dragons (2 p.m. CT)
  • Saturday, April 22 vs. Orlando Guardians (11 a.m. CT)

To explore tickets for these games, click here.

The Battlehawks will air on the following channels this year

  • FX: Feb. 23, March 5, March 18, March 25
  • ABC: Feb. 19
  • ESPN 2: March 12, April 1
  • ESPN: April 8, April 16, April 22

For more information on the Battlehawks, schedule and other team news, click here.