By Alan Snel, LVSportsBiz.com Publisher/Writer
Ben and Kris Kuntz have history with the XFL.
The couple from St. George, Utah attended the first Las Vegas Outlaws at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2001 and they were back Saturday afternoon for the 3.0 version of the XFL, which came to old Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas for the XFL Vegas Vipers’ first home game in this growing market.
The Kuntzs bought Vipers season tickets for $185 for five home games — less than $40 a game. They brought son Danny for the XFL game.
Remarkably, Ben and Kris still had their old Outlaws flags, caps and rally towels. They brought the logo gear today and were among the first batch of tailgaters at the Cashman, which also hosts the Las Vegas Lights soccer team of the United Soccer League.
There was a time when Cashman was a new sports venue more than three decades ago, hosting Triple-A affiliates for the MLB Padres, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Mets. But the old stadium is dated these days. The current home of the Lights soccer team is showing wear-and-tear with faded seats and metal bleachers still in place from the Las Vegas 51s days.
The XFL Vipers looked at Allegiant Stadium and the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, but the Raiders venue was too expensive and the Triple-A Aviators ballyard could not accommodate the football field.
The football field layout at Cashman is different from the soccer field design. The football field runs from the third base side of the stadium to the right field wall and there are no seats on one side of the field.
This version of the XFL is different from the original league created by WWE promoter Vince McMahon 22 years ago. McMahon beefed up the football product with showmanship and glitz in an attempt to compete against the National Football League.
Tailgater and Vipers fan Bill Cooper, who also attended the old XFL Outlaws games at Sam Boyd Stadium, said the original WWE product of the XFL had too much flash and glamour. “Now we’re back to football,” Cooper told LVSportsBiz.com in the Cashman parking lot. Cooper is standing at the far left in the photo below.
The current XFL co-head, Dwayne “Rock” Johnson, has marked XFL 3.0 as a minor league feeder to the NFL. In fact, the Vegas Vipers and the Vegas Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League, which play in the Dollar Loan Center arena in Henderson, have a partnership under which players can go back and forth between the teams.
Las Vegas and its growing market of 2.3 million residents continue to give birth to more and more new professional sports teams.
Not only did the NHL Golden Knights (2017) and NFL Raiders (2020) plant roots in the Strip corridor, the Vegas market is now home to the Las Vegas Desert Dogs of the Indoor Lacrosse League — a box lacrosse team partially owned by former NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky and playing at Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena (home of the WNBA Las Vegas Aces.)
The MLB Oakland Athletics have listed 11 lobbyists in an attempt to draw public money for a ballpark in the Strip corridor, arena builder Oak View Group is trying to build an NBA arena as part of a hotel-casino project at Las Vegas Boulevard and Blue Diamond Road; and the Major League Soccer is looking at Las Vegas as the host market for a possible MLS expansion club.