Gladiators try to land better playing dates

Despite growing speculation about a potential move to Cleveland, Gladiators owner Jim Ferraro said Thursday his priority is to stay in Las Vegas and work out more favorable playing dates at the Orleans Arena.

Ferraro, who is on a two-week European vacation, said his chief concern is to sit down with arena management near the end of this month and push for Friday and Saturday night games. The Orleans offered Thursday, Sunday and Monday games, which Ferraro called “pathetic” and “horrible.”

“If we can’t get the arena dates, then we’ve got to start looking into other options that are out there,” Ferraro said.

He said, however, staying at the Orleans Arena would be one of those options even if the dates aren’t satisfactory.

An attempt to reach Orleans Arena general manager Steve Stallworth was unsuccessful.

As for a potential move, Ferraro’s friend, Bernie Kosar, reportedly is interested in putting an Arena Football League team in Cleveland, where he starred for the Browns. But Ferraro said Kosar has not bought into the Gladiators.

Time is against Ferraro should he explore a move. He would have to file an application, which the expansion and relocation committee and the executive committee would review. Then those committees would report to the board of directors, which meets Oct. 9 and 10.

Another board meeting is expected before the season, which begins in late February or early March, though a conference call could be arranged should Ferraro move ahead.

Ferraro also has unfinished business with the Thomas & Mack Center, where the team played its first four seasons in Las Vegas. He owes $56,000 for dates the Thomas & Mack did not book after the Gladiators left for the Orleans Arena.

But Ferraro said he wants to examine issues before paying the Thomas & Mack, such as whether the arena tried to fill those eight dates.

Thomas & Mack director Daren Libonati said the late pull-out made rescheduling events nearly impossible. He said it would have made more sense to fill a date, which brings in at least $40,000 and sometimes much more, as opposed to the $7,000 penalty from the Gladiators.

“With a building like this, you’re not going to book something in 45 days. You book at least six months out,” Libonati said.

Regardless, Ferraro said he would consider a return to the Thomas & Mack if he can’t reach an agreement with the Orleans. Libonati was non-committal but indicated the club was wrong to leave.

Ferraro spoke for the first time about hiring coach Mike Wilpolt and his staff. Wilpolt, the Los Angeles Avengers’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, took over an 0-5 Indiana Firebirds team in 2004 and led it to an 8-3 record down the stretch.

The new offensive coordinator is Brian Partlow, the head coach of the Austin Wranglers last season. Partlow also was the offensive coordinator of the 2005 Colorado Crush club that won the ArenaBowl.

“We have two head coaches on both sides of the ball,” Ferraro said.

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