Las Vegas Posse

Years in league: 1994
Owner: Nick Mileti
Stadium: Sam Boyd Stadium (31,000)
Colors: Desert Sand, Black & White
Overall Regular Season Record: 5-13
Overall Playoff Record: 0-0

Yearly Standings and Average Home Attendances

1994: 5-13 (8,953)

The Posse were the least successful of the American teams, both on and off the field. A CFL franchise was awarded to Nick Mileti for Las Vegas in 1993. The team took to the field in 1994, and despite a strong nucleus of young stars, the Posse were doomed from the start. A stadium far from the central city, stifling desert heat during the games, unfamiliarity with the Canadian game, and a general oversupply of entertainment options meant that the Posse had a long uphill battle to fight.

Led by former UNLV and NFL coach Ron Meyer, the Posse started with a pair of wins over Sacramento and Saskatchewan, but things quickly went downhill from there. Dwindling attendance bottomed out during the eighth home game (against Winnipeg), when less than 3,000 fans showed up, many of them on excursions from Winnipeg. Players openly complained that teammates and coaches were apathetic, and no longer cared about the on-field fortunes of the team in light of the circus that transpired off it. The final game was moved to Edmonton, and by then, it was clear the team would not be returning to Las Vegas.

While the Posse as previously mentioned had some notable players, like QB Anthony Calvillo (now with Montreal), KR Tamarick Vanover (now with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs), RB Jon Volpe (shown at above left), LB Greg Battle and K Carlos Huerta, and coaches (Jeff Reinebold, the ex-Winnipeg head coach was one of the assistants), the management of the team was nothing short of a disaster. Among the many foibles:

  • A national incident occurred when singer Dennis K.C. Parks mangled the Canadian national anthem by singing it to the tune of "O Christmas Tree" at the Posse's first home game.
  • The infamous cheerleader stunt where the Posse "Showgirls" cheerleading squad was asked by coach Ron Meyer to loiter behind the BC Lions' bench in a bid to distract the players. The Posse lost the game anyway, but they continued to use their scantily-clad cheerleaders to entice fans out to games, by staging stunts such as halftime bikini contests.
  • The Posse practiced in a smaller-than-regulation field (only 70 yards long) in a casino parking lot, where a sign read "Field of ImPOSSEable Dreams." In fact, the end zones at Sam Boyd Stadium themselves were only 15 yards long, instead of the usual 20 yards.
  • When attendance continued to dwindle, all seats were reduced to $9. The few who bought season tickets in more expensive categories (up to $750 US) were given extra tickets to make up for the price difference.

The Posse did make CFL history on July 8, 1994 when they defeated Sacramento, 32-26. It marked the first CFL game between two American teams.

After the season, there was talk a group from Jackson, Mississippi would buy the team and move it there, but the deal fell through and the CFL held a dispersal draft for the Posse in 1995.

After the dispersal draft, another group (this one from Miami) made plans to purchase what was left of the Posse franchise and move it to Miami, where it would be known as the Manatees and begin play in the 1996 season. There was even a preseason game played in 1995 at the Orange Bowl, between Baltimore & Birmingham (Baltimore won, 37-0) to introduce Miami fans to the CFL game. However nothing much came of the deal, especially after the American teams (except Baltimore, who moved to Montreal) disbanded after the 1995 season.