Las Vegas was officially given its United Football League team Monday, but the city will have to share it with Los Angeles for at least a year.
The recession forced the upstart league to make this a showcase season with four teams representing seven cities. Each team will play a six-game season, with the championship game planned for Thanksgiving weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium.
UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue hopes to place teams in individual cities next year but said this was a better step than taking another year off in hopes the economy recovers. The league already delayed its inaugural season once.
“We’ll use the cities as a send-off to try a couple of destinations the first season, so we can touch as many cities as we can,” Huyghue said.
The other franchises will be New York-Hartford, Conn., Orlando, Fla., and San Francisco-Sacramento, Calif. The season begins in October.
Though the site of in-season practices has not been announced, Sam Boyd Stadium director Daren Libonati said this will be a Las Vegas-based franchise that will host two of the three home games. He said Los Angeles will be part of the team as a selling point next year, when the UFL hopes to field a more complete league and schedule.
Huyghue said he wants the championship game to be played in Las Vegas every year but that no decisions have been made. “I think it’s a growing city,” he said. “It’s scared off other leagues, but in the end we think it’s better than any city in handling events.”
He said he wasn’t concerned about associating with a city where sports betting is legal but made it clear that maintaining the integrity of the games is critical.
As previously reported, former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel will coach the Las Vegas team. Repeated efforts to reach Fassel for comment have been unsuccessful. But he told Bloomberg News that he took the job because it was close to his Arizona home and that he believes in the league’s future.
Huyghue said Las Vegas’ ownership is in place and an announcement about it will be made later.
Billionaire businessman Bill Hambrecht and Google executive Tim Armstrong are the key figures behind the UFL, which announced that Paul Pelosi is leading a group investing $30 million. Pelosi, husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is president of a San Francisco-based investment and consulting company.