Las Vegas Posse 1994
Home Stadium: Sam Boyd Stadium (32,000)
Las Vegas was granted the second American Expansion franchise in Canadian Football League history on July 26, 1993. Entrepreneur Nick Mileti paid $2.5 million for the franchise and set up shop in the desert of Nevada. Mileti had previously been an investor in the World Football League in the 1970's with a franchise in Cleveland. The controlling company was placed on the NASDAQ and significant start-up capital was raised. The Club struck a marketing deal with the Riviera hotel and the team was promoted as the parking lot of the hotel was transformed into a practice field dubbed "the field of imPOSSEable dreams."
For a coach the Posse hired former Ron Meyer. Ron had extensive experience in the NFL coaching with New England and Indianapolis. In addition, Meyer had ties to the community having also coached the UNLV running rebels. For talent Mileti and Meyer looked big recruiting Florida State sophomore Tamarick Vanover. Vanover had some trouble while attending Florida State and left after just two seasons. A lucrative 6 figure salary lured him to Las Vegas as a receiver and return specialist. The club won it's first game a pre-season match versus B.C. at B.C.Place.
-excerpted:The Canadian Football League:ThePhoenixofProfessionalSportsLeagues bySteveO'Brien pg.105
Vanover had an inauspicious start to his CFL career and the leagues rules much to the chagrin of coach Meyer. Vanover called for a fair catch, then watched as the ball bounced away and was recovered by B.C. in the Posse end zone for a touchdown. On the ensuing kick-off, Vanover picked up the ball, ran back into the endzone and out of bounds, unaware that this gave the Lions a safety.
The fumbling and bumbling was a sign of things to come. An especiall hot summer, even by Nevada standards, did not help the cause of the Posse. Home attendance dwindled to embarrassing lows under 10,000 and then under 6,000. The embarrassment was not just contained to the 60 minutes of football. An event that made headlines on both sides of the border involved the anthem singing of one Dennis K.C. Parks. The version of "O Canada" sounded more like "O Christmas Tree" to the humor of media outlets across the continent. The situation became so bad that the final game in Las Vegas Posse history was moved to Edmonton. The club finished the season at 5-13.
Notable performers included quarterback Anthony Calvillo. In his rookie season Calvillo fresh out of Utah State saw the bulk of action behind center for Las Vegas completing 154 of 348 attempts for 2,582 yards with 13 touchdowns to go with 15 interceptions. Calvillo has gone on to become one the all-time great Quarterbacks in league history capturing the leagues Most Outstanding Player award in 2004 with Montreal and in the top five in career passing yardage. The place kicker for Las Vegas in 1994 was University of Miami grad Carlos Huerta he was good on 38 of 49 field goal attempts with a long of 54 yards. Huerta would move on to the Baltimore Stallions in 1995 and capture the Grey Cup for the year. The clubs marquee player Tamarick Vanover finished the year with 385 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. As a kick returner Vanover had 718 kickoff return yard including a 90 yard return for a touchdown, he add 341 punt return yards and a 105 yard punt return score. Vanover would not return to the CFL in 1995 and was a 3rd round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs with whom he enjoyed success for a couple of seasons.
The deck was definitely stacked against Las Vegas considering the league is a summer league. The weather proved a factor in poor ticket sales but as with other failed expansion ventures the commitment was not consistent from the principal figures behind the franchise. The club folded officially prior to the 1995 season and a dispersal draft was held for the players.