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Las Vegas Lights FC keeps pace with Aviators in attendance

Updated April 20, 2019 - 4:31 pm

One man’s rusted out plumbing is another man’s treasure.

When the 51s changed their name to Aviators and moved to a new ballpark in Downtown Summerlin, it was expected to have a huge impact on attendance. Which it has. With an average of 9,744 spectators, the Aviators are leading the Pacific Coast League after averaging 4,746 at Cashman Field to finish third from the bottom in 2018.

Almost just as remarkable: After moving into Cashman Field full time with the departure of its baseball tenant, the Lights FC ranks fourth among 35 United Soccer League clubs with average attendance of 8,308 — about 1,400 fewer than the Aviators are drawing in a stadium with much fresher paint.

“Las Vegas is a big city, and we can support all types of professional sports,” said Brett Lashbrook, the Lights’ effervescent owner. “Rising tides raise all ships. This town can handle the Raiders. It can handle the Golden Knights. It can handle UNLV, pro soccer, women’s basketball, minor league baseball. That’s what big cities do, and that’s what we are, and this is a testament to that.”

And the Lights have yet to break out their primo promotions, such as last year’s money drop out of a helicopter.

One of the themes last week was “No Teal Night.” Gold paint was used to conceal teal striping on the Lights’ jerseys in support of the Golden Knights’ playoff series against the teal-clad San Jose Sharks.

Better profit margin than bobbleheads, one supposes.

Poutasi’s double whammy

It has been a challenging couple of weeks for Jeremiah Poutasi, the former Desert Pines football star who in 2015 was the Tennessee Titans’ starting right offensive tackle.

After eventually getting cut by the Titans, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos after that, the former All-Pac 12 standout at Utah joined the Salt Lake Stallions of the Alliance of American Football — only to have the startup spring league capitulate midway through its inaugural season.

When the AAF folded, Poutasi signed with the Arizona Cardinals. He was released a week later on April 8.

Draggin’ the money line

Two weeks ago, Shawn Langdon was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway racing the world’s best Funny Car drivers in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. This week, the Kalitta Motorsports driver returned to run against Average Joes — albeit lightning fast Average Joes — in the Spring Fling at LVMS, which pays a minimum $250,000 to win and as much as $1 million, contingent on the number of entries.

This is drag racing’s answer to high-roller bowling tournaments. Langdon said he was constantly being approached for autographs by the amateur racers, many of whom also told him to keep his oily hands off the big check.

“This kind of reminds me of racing in the Junior Dragsters on my way up,” the 2013 Top Fuel champion said about the friendly atmosphere at the track this weekend.

Fast ratings

Speaking of the NHRA, its Sunday race at Houston drew a 0.6 rating on Fox, topping every NHL playoff game on NBCSN last week — including all three late-starting Golden Knights-Sharks games (0.34, 0.28, 0.34). The only hockey games to beat drag racing on TV were on NBC primary (Toronto-Boston, New York Islanders-Pittsburgh, Carolina-Washington, with the Leafs and Bruins getting a 1.01.)

Conclusion to be drawn: Hockey remains a niche sport.

But not here, of course.

0:01

On the day Dave Kingman was mentioned in a column about current and former Las Vegas’ Triple-A baseball sluggers Seth Brown and Pete Alonso, photos showing a grinning Kingman posing with sharks arrived in my email box.

“After King Kong was traded to the A’s, I took him out fishing on San Francisco Bay on my 25-foot cruiser for a column I wrote to promote a shark derby to raise money for salmon habitat protection,” wrote former RJ reporter Keith Rogers. “He was really into fishing. Occasionally I’d stop by the A’s (clubhouse) to drop off an extra salmon I had caught.

“About three weeks after we caught these leopard sharks, he bought a 40-foot cruiser, painted it in A’s colors and dubbed it “Designated Hitter.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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