Las Vegas Locos Preparing for Fourth Season
File photo of Jim Fassel
By Joe Buda
Las Vegas Informer
The Las Vegas Locomotives season opener is a little over three weeks away and the team, as well as the United Football League, has a lot of work to do to get ready.
Almost one month ago we reported that during a press conference held at the team’s facilities, it was revealed that they (the team and the league) were waiting on funding as well as a stadium to play in.
They did have two key pieces in place: a schedule, and more importantly, a television deal in place with CBS sports.
We met up with head coach Jim Fassel to discuss the team’s progress in the last three plus weeks.
The major issue looming over the Locos, and the league, was funding for the fourth season and making good on the payables left over from last year. According to reports from the press conference, these payables totaled over two million dollars.
According to Fassel, “The funding should be in place in the next day or two.”
One of the other issues hanging over the team was the lack of a stadium. They were looking at two different venues, Sam Boyd Stadium and Cashman Field. One roadblock for Sam Boyd Stadium was the outstanding money owned by the team to UNLV, who owns the stadium. UNLV reportedly wanted the Locos to pay for last year, as well as all of this year up front.
In speaking with Fassel, the team has secured a location for this season. If I were to speculate, I would bet the team plays at Sam Boyd Stadium. Cashman Field has not been used for football before, and if the Las Vegas 51s make it into the playoffs, their season could extend into the Locos first two home games.
As soon as the stadium is announced, the team will be able to start selling season tickets. This is where it becomes crunch time for the Locos. By the time the stadium is announced, there will be less than three weeks until opening kickoff.
Fassel understands the importance of bringing the fans back to the Loco’s games.
“The fans that had season tickets are loyal to us,” Fassel explained. “And I want them back.”
According to Fassel he has a plan to reward past season ticket holder. He declined to comment on it until he is ready to start selling tickets.
As for the football side of things, the team has had two sets of tryouts already, one in Arizona and the other one in Las Vegas. Fassel stated that he has been keeping his eyes on the players he is interested in.
“We track guys all the time, we know where they are, who’s playing where,” Fassel remarked. “It’s no mystery. I have Randy Ball working full time on personnel.”
“I really like the lineup of our team,” added Fassel.
The date for players to report to camp has been pushed back from the August 23 date announced in the August 1 press conference. This gives them the opportunity to evaluate more talent as it is cut from the NFL rosters.
“By September 2, they (the NFL) will have cut a thousand players,” noted Fassel.
This timeframe does cut into the leagues preparation time before the season kickoff.
“We preferably would like to start a little bit earlier, but we are still dealing with some things,” Fassel stated. “But in the NFL every year the players report 15 days before the first game. I know it’s a pre-season game but it’s a game.”
“So you get about two weeks to get your team ready,” added Fassel.
Two veteran players will not be returning this year, Adam Bergen and Teddy Lehman. Both have pursued other careers.
The football side of the UFL has been its strong point. According to Fassel, “The product on the field is outstanding. How does everyone look at this league? The product on the field is good, and marketing is not good.”
“We need to do better at that (marketing),” Fassel remarked. “Now this year we are a late.”
According to Fassel, they are working on the marketing plan. He also hopes that people realize how supporting the Locos will support the local economy and that they (the Locos) are a successful franchise when judged by wins.
The Locos start the season with three consecutive home games, beginning on Wednesday, September 19.
Having home games so early is a mixed blessing.
“The advantage of it (the three consecutive home games) is you are playing at home early,” Fassel reasoned. “Your odds of winning at home are better than they are on the road.”
“From a business standpoint, we are late getting everything out so it might hurt our crowds,” Fassel added. “Coming down the stretch you have road games.”
The Las Vegas Locos have a lot of work that needs to be done prior to kickoff. Further updates will be published as they become available.