With the team struggling on and off the field, the Arena Football League has taken over the daily operations of the Las Vegas Outlaws.
In addition to the Outlaws, the league announced it has taken over running the New Orleans VooDoo. Both teams will complete the season, which has four games remaining.
The Outlaws, who are 5-9 and in second place in the West Division and have had to play at times without their two top quarterbacks due to injuries, play at the L.A. Kiss Saturday. The two remaining home games at the Thomas & Mack Center are scheduled for July 25, ironically vs. New Orleans, and the regular-season finale Aug. 8 against Spokane. The league was still trying to determine whether the Outlaws would play those games at home or on the road or at a neutral site. An announcement on the remainder of the schedule is expected Thursday.
AFL Commissioner Scott Butera said the league had no choice but to take over the team after giving it several weeks to sort things out on its own.
"It‘s pretty simple: we‘re trying to get the league on solid financial ground and obviously it takes a financial and operational commitment to run a team," Butera said. "We think Las Vegas is a strong market and we hope to field a team there for years to come. We just have to find the right ownership group which will spend money on marketing the team and promoting it properly."
Former Outlaws owners Vince Neil and Bob Hewko could not be reached for comment.
The expansion team, Las Vegas‘ third attempt at fielding a team in the league, had been owned by Neil, the longtime Motley Crue frontman, along with Hewko, Mark Daniels and Sohrob Farudi. But there were numerous problems within the business side of the operation. The team had a hard time implementing a sound marketing strategy and several front office employees went weeks without receiving a paycheck.
The ownership group cut ties with Farudi, who Hewko claimed was in charge of the business side of the team, several weeks ago. Both Hewko and Butera said three weeks ago that the league would not be taking over the Outlaws and that the AFL was merely assisting in trying to locate potential investors.
Meanwhile, attendance continued to slide at the Outlaws‘ home games at the Thomas & Mack. The debut of the team on March 30 vs. San Jose drew a crowd of 6,662. But attendance continued to decline and according to figures supplied by the Thomas & Mack Center, the turnstile count for the most recent home game vs. Portland June 28 drew only 2,641 fans. For seven home dates, the team drew a total of just 24,835, an average of 3,547.
And with the situation getting worse, Butera said the league decided Tuesday it was time to step in and take over the team.
"We were under the impression the former ownership group was getting additional investors and were going to commit more to marketing the team," Butera said. "When that wasn’t the case, the league decided to take the action that it did.
"The players, coaches and staff are getting paid. The bills are getting paid. We’re going to support the team and get it on an even keel."