Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 | 6 p.m.
The decision by Arena Football League officials to deny the Las Vegas Outlaws taking part in the playoffs has outraged fans, TV commentators, Outlaws coach Aaron Garcia, players and team owner hometown rocker Vince Neil of Motley Crue. A storm of sports media reports supports Vince’s position.
ESPN co-anchor Steve Levy said: “Not letting a pro team go to the playoffs when they earned their spot is unprecedented in any sport.”
Aaron told the team early today: “The AFL is a single entity. The league employs the players and coaches. That is the reason that in the past, teams not in good standing have still played in the playoffs, and there had never been a canceled game due to finances. We have been singled out.”
The furor began after the Outlaws made the playoffs, all the more an amazing feat since it was the team’s first season.
AFL guru Adam Markowitz wrote on the fan website ArenaFan.com: “For the first time in Arena Football League history, a team which has qualified for the post season won’t get the opportunity to play in it.
“The Las Vegas Outlaws were officially shut down by the AFL on Sunday, creating a massive storm in the National Conference playoff picture. Las Vegas, which rightfully qualified for the second season by finishing 5-12-1, now cedes its position to the Portland Thunder, who finished at 5-13.”
A recent game by the Outlaws against the New Orleans VooDoo, who also officially ceased operations Sunday, was canceled, which led to the Outlaws getting a tie, which landed them in the playoffs. Then came Sunday night’s decision to end the Outlaws because it didn’t have proper ownership.
Vince told me while taking a day off in Detroit after seven consecutive Motley Crue farewell tour concerts: “This goes against everything the league stands for. The thought of it is mind-boggling. If you deserve to go, you go. There’s always the possibility we could have won the playoffs if we’d been allowed to play in them since we qualified.
“I’d like to clear the air over the current situation. All I ever wanted to do was to bring football to Las Vegas. I love football and Las Vegas. Bob Hewko and I formed a group and found an investor, and the league awarded us the franchise, with us having a contract for a percentage of the team.
“The investor was the managing partner who paid the bills and ran the team, business dealings, sponsorships and finances. That wasn’t our responsibility. Bob and I had nothing to do with any finances. The investor did all that. I brought in Dollar Loan Center as our main sponsor.
The managing partner of the team was California businessman Sohrob Farudi. He has said that he paid his investment not only in full, but also more dollar funding than was required under the terms of the agreement.
Vince continued: “We discovered that bills weren’t getting paid. We didn’t know they’d stopped being paid. I tried to keep it going by putting out fires, paying a bill here and there myself.
“Sports teams survive on sponsorships. It’s the sponsors who keep all sports alive, and unfortunately Las Vegas did not step up as much as we envisioned with sufficient sponsorships.
“Bob and I tried to find another investor even though the season was ending. The league did pay some of the bills, but then pulled the rug right out from under us. We have investors interested for next season, but not right at the end of our first go round. We were only two games away.
“They dropped the bomb on us yesterday (Sunday). We would have paid for the team to have gone to the playoffs. They should have said we deserved to play. It simply isn’t fair not to let us play. To make it into the playoffs for a first-year team is amazing. They should do it for our players who’ve played their hearts out all year and also Las Vegas.”
Adam reported: “I understand that there are more fans in Portland who are going to be happy to see their team play in the second season than there are upset fans in Las Vegas that their team is finished. It’s the third time since 2010 that the city of Las Vegas, which is the league’s headquarters, has had its team either move or fold.
“Even when the 2013 Chicago Rush were homeless and ownerless, they were granted a chance to play for a championship in the playoffs. Las Vegas won’t get that opportunity.”
Said Vince: “I’m hoping that there will be enough of a furor kicked up by the media and fans over this decision that the league will overturn it and let the Outlaws play. I know that I can get the costs covered. There should be a team in Las Vegas, and it will start up again, and we’ll continue to be a part of it.
“The Outlaws will be back for next season. It would be great, though, if we get to play in the playoffs first, especially since the team had earned its berth.”
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.