Rose Helps Form Alliance With Vegas
October 24, 2018 3:00 AM
by Steve Carp
Rich Rose can’t help himself. He loves to be involved in staging fun sporting events.
The one-time sports executive at Caesars Palace who helped bring world championship boxing, an outdoor NHL game and the Davis Cup tennis matches to the iconic Strip property in the 1980s and ‘90s, is back. This time, Rose has worked with the fledgling Alliance of American Football to bring its inaugural championship game to Sam Boyd Stadium in 2019. The deal, which was made with Las Vegas Events, is for two years and was announced Tuesday.
The game, which will pit the champions of the AAF’s two divisions, will be played at 5 p.m., April 27 and will be televised nationally on CBS. Fans who attend will be able to wager on the contest thanks to MGM Resorts, which has partnered with the league and will make the game available on the menu of its mobile app as will the league with its phone app.
The league’s inaugural season kicks off on Feb. 9 with eight teams playing a 10-game schedule. Games will be televised on CBS and the CBS Sports Network.
“A number of elements are key to this,” Rose said. “Certainly the betting. But Las Vegas knows how to put on big events and this game will enhance the local sports scene.
“We’ve seen what major league professional sports have done for the city. The Golden Knights and the NHL certainly have had a profound impact. And with the NFL coming to town and other leagues looking at the city, bringing this league’s championship game will be a fun experience for those who attend and watch.”
Charlie Ebersol, the co-founder and CEO of the league, said the move to play its title game in its inaugural season in Las Vegas was a no-brainer.
“When we began looking seriously at this venture, I wanted a Las Vegas component to it,” Ebersol said. “Having our title game in Vegas is bigger than a franchise. It’s a chance to showcase our two best teams in a city that everyone loves to come to.”
Ebersol said Rose’s knowledge of the city and his experience in sports helped make the marriage between the league and the town.
“One of my first calls was to Rich,” Ebersol said. “We’ve known each other approaching 20 years and he knows the Las Vegas market. And his relationship with Las Vegas Events and the MGM made it an easy call.”
Las Vegas Events president Pat Christenson said as a one-day event with whatever promotional run-up leading to the AAF title game, is a low-risk proposition for his company.
“It’s a one-game event with 10 weeks to help promote it,” Christenson said. “Rich was the person who reached out to us through Charlie and he was the key to helping make the deal. He knows the city and he knows football from his time with the XFL.”
Las Vegas, which will be the home of the NFL’s Raiders beginning in 2020, is no stranger to pro football. Back in 1994, the Canadian Football League had a franchise in Las Vegas, the Posse. The Posse barely made it through their one season before folding. In 2001, the XFL’s Outlaws played one year at Sam Boyd Stadium before the league went under. Ebersol’s dad Dick was one of the driving forces of the XFL while he worked at NBC.
From 2009-2012, the United Football League had a franchise, the Locomotives. Indoors, the Arena Football League had several teams try and fail to make it in Las Vegas.
The difference this time is there’s no Las Vegas franchise. There’s no long-term investment. So if you’re a local football fan who needs to have a little betting action or you’re simply a curiosity seeker, you may decide to come out and see it in person. Ticket information will be released at a later date.
“It’s perfect for Las Vegas,” Rose said. “It’s just one game. You’ll get fans from the two teams that play in the (title) game. It’s a great time of the year, not too hot. You’ll be able to bet on the game in the stadium. And I think you’ll be impressed by the quality of the football.”
Ebersol said that will ultimately determine whether or not the Alliance makes it.
“It all starts there, with the quality of the product,” he said. “We’ve assembled a ‘Dream Team’ of executives, coaches, players and marketing and television executives.
“This is the greatest collection of football minds outside the NFL and I feel confident that we’ll have the best quality of football ever played in the spring.”