Vegas feels the heat: Start drawing fans or it could be curtains


August 28, 1994|By KEN MURRAY

Just when the Canadian Football League thinks it has stomped out one brush fire, another turns to flame.

The newest crisis in the CFL surfaced last week in Los Angeles, where members of the Las Vegas Posse's board of directors held an emergency session to address dwindling funds.

The Posse's balance sheet, in the black after a stock offering raised $7 million, is about to turn red.

The Las Vegas Sun has reported that the team has less than $1 million left of the $6 million that was supposed to last 18 months.

At least half of the $6 million went to pay back investors who had put up the expansion fee for owner Nick Mileti.

Although board members declined to discuss the meeting in Los Angeles, at least one, Thomas Roulston, gave an indication of how dire the circumstances are.

"It's hard for a sports team to stay in business if it's not drawing," Roulston told the Las Vegas Sun. "The alternative should be obvious to everybody. We've got to figure out what can be done to draw more attendance."

The expansion Posse is last in attendance with an average of 11,877. When Mileti reduced all seats to $9 last week, the team still drew only 14,432.

Problems range from the scorching heat -- as high as 112 degrees at kickoff -- to losing. With Thursday night's 44-17 loss to Edmonton, in which it committed eight turnovers, the Posse dropped to 3-5.

"I think it's premature to judge us," said coach Ron Meyer, "but there are some storm warnings on the horizon."

Commissioner Larry Smith said the Posse was not in imminent danger of folding. "They have a surplus in their account -- enough to run through this year," he said.

Already this season, the CFL has thrown the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a life preserver by granting the city the 1996 Grey Cup.

A fire sale?

In another trouble spot, the financially strapped Ottawa Rough Riders got a much-needed infusion of cash last week.

Larry O'Brien, a self-made millionaire and CEO of a company that produces satellite equipment, reached an agreement to purchase 25 percent of the team from owner Bruce Firestone.

O'Brien was to put $300,000 into the team immediately, and pledged another $100,000. No sooner did he strike the deal than he was off to the Orient until Sept. 12 on a business trip.

The purchase prompted speculation that Firestone, who took over the team from Bernie Glieberman this season, is already on

his way out.

He's a double threat

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are down to their third quarterback and are so desperate they've signed an Elvis impersonator. Well, sort of.

One week after the team lost Matt Dunigan for six weeks to a knee injury, the Bombers lost backup Sammy Garza for the season because of a similar injury.

Keithen McCant, a one-year starter at Nebraska in 1991, rescued a 31-28 victory over the Sacramento Gold Miners for the Bombers. His new backup is Tom Porras, an Arena Football veteran who doubles as a lounge act with a big Elvis repertoire. Porras, 36, spent time with Winnipeg last season, and most recently played with the Phoenix Rattlers in Arena ball.

"He knows the offense and he knows all the bars where he can do his gigs," said Winnipeg coach Cal Murphy.

Paying the price

Ottawa coach Adam Rita was a good sport when ESPN asked him to wear a live microphone for a game against Winnipeg and his counterpart, Murphy, declined. But he soon found out there was a price for his cordiality.

It came in the second quarter, when Rita huddled on the sideline with quarterback Danny Barrett. Watching from his home in Tennessee, Bombers scout Paul Jones heard the call and phoned assistant general manager Lyle Bauer in the press box on a cellular phone. Bauer informed the team's spotters, who then passed word to the field.

8, First play: interception. Winnipeg ball.

Running wild

A year ago, there were a total of 13 100-yard rushing games in the CFL. This season, after seven weeks, there had been 16. Two of them came against the Baltimore CFLs in Week 7 when Mike "Pinball" Clemons got the first 100-yard game of his career (120) and quarterback Reggie Slack scrambled for 102.

British Columbia's Cory Philpot leads the way with four 100-yard games. The team most susceptible was the Tiger-Cats, who were burned for 100 yards by one runner four times.

What'd he say?

Las Vegas coach Meyer got carried away when he started talking about pass rushing against a running quarterback the other day.

"You really have to go in with a great deal of control in your pass rush," he said. "You can't go in there like a blind dog in a meathouse, or all of a sudden you become a pig on ice."

Next round on him

Sacramento's offensive numbers are down this year and the Gold Miners are having trouble in the red zone. Averaging 20 points a game after eight weeks, quarterback Dave Archer had this suggestion:

"We need some of the nastiness the defense has . . . . Hopefully, the offense can feed on some of their nastiness. We have a bunch of nice guys on offense and it's time for some guys to let the beards go, start spitting and drinking a couple of beers."

Bad day at Black Rock

Week 7 was a tough week on starting quarterbacks. In addition to Tracy Ham's injury in Baltimore, three quarterbacks were benched -- Shreveport's Terrence Jones after a 5-for-27, four-interception start; Hamilton's Timm Rosenbach after a 4-for-11 start; and Saskatchewan's Tom Burgess after a 4-for-11 start.

Counting down

Saskatchewan wide receiver Donald Narcisse extended his consecutive games receiving streak to 116 Friday night against Ottawa, tying him with Tony Scott for third on the league's all-time list. But Narcisse is still a season away from overtaking all-time leader Tony Gabriel, who caught passes in 137 consecutive games while playing for Hamilton and Ottawa from 1973 to 1981.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.