Locos settle debt, hastily prepare for UFL opener

Opening night is rapidly approaching, and a lot remains to get done. But it appears the United Football League’s 2012 kickoff game between Virginia and the Locomotives will take place Wednesday at Sam Boyd Stadium as scheduled.

“We’re all set,” Las Vegas president and coach Jim Fassel said Friday after the team and UNLV settled their financial differences. “We’ll be playing, and we hope all the fans who’ve supported us the first three years will come out to Sam Boyd.”

The four-team UFL resolved its workers’ compensation insurance issues Monday, allowing the season to proceed. The league will play an eight-game regular season running through Nov. 16. The UFL championship game is scheduled for Dec. 1 at a location to be determined.

The Locos have been on the practice field since Thursday at Henderson International School and will switch locations to Sam Boyd Stadium on Sunday after finally settling with UNLV. The Locos paid the university $35,000 owed from last season and an additional $100,000 for the first two games this season. In return, the Thomas & Mack Center, which oversees Sam Boyd Stadium, will help the Locos get the word out that there is indeed a 2012 season.

“Everything’s good,” Thomas & Mack director Mike Newcomb said. “We’ve put the past behind us, and we’re starting fresh.

“We’ll send out an email blast to our 250,000 people in our database, and we’ll start including (the Locos) in our radio and TV ad spots. Coach worked diligently to get it done, and now that we’re caught up, we’ll help them any way we can.”

Tickets, priced at $20 for reserved and $10 for general admission, are on sale at the Thomas & Mack box office and through UNLVTickets.com for Wednesday’s opener against the Destroyers. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. and will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network (Cable 333).

The UFL, which has lost $120 million in its first three seasons, is hoping that by getting national TV exposure with its CBS Sports Network deal, while cutting spending, it can significantly reduce the amount of money it loses annually.

But with the late start and the lack of exposure, the league faces an uphill battle to lure fans to its games. The UFL is counting on CBSSN to help get the word out.

“We’re reaching out to our former season-ticket holders and groups we’ve worked with in the past,” said Tash Vlasho, the Locos’ new vice president of business operations. “We’re calling people and letting them know we’re playing, and the early response has been positive.

“But we know we don’t have a lot of time between now and Wednesday to get the word out. I’m trying to get three things accomplished: One, I want our fans to feel appreciated. Two, I want CBS to feel like they’re involved with something special, that this is a great product for them to be involved with. Finally, I want our players to know they’ve got support from the community and ownership.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, and the fans who have seen us before will be impressed with the team we have for this year.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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