After four seasons and four semifinal appearances, the Las Vegas Legends quietly suspended operations for the 2016/17 MASL season. And then, suddenly last Friday, the Legends announced they would host the Mexican National Futbol Rapido Team at Orleans Arena on July 1.
The Legends split their games between Orleans Arena and Las Vegas Indoor Soccer, but played all of their games in the latter facility, which only has seating for about 400, in 2015/16. That facility did not meet the MASL’s minimum standards so the Legends needed to find a suitable arena or present a transition plan, and instead went dark for the 2016/17 season, while keeping their league membership intact.
Despite numerous coaching changes and uneven attendance, the Legends managed to win their division all four years and compiled a 53-19 regular season record in two PASL seasons and two MASL seasons. Led by colorful Israeli owner Meir Cohen, who had several stints as the team’s Head Coach, the Legends were built to win on the field, but played in a difficult sports market and seemed less interested in building a viable organization off the field.
What the Legends fan base lacked in size they made up for in passion. The Legends were a family affair and Meir’s wife and kids were regularly in attendance at road games along with several dozen die-hards.
Legends high jinks
This time around Orleans Arena seems more willing to work with the Legends and the arena reached out to Cohen to host a game this summer. “We’re hoping to get a few exhibition games and build a core of players and come back for the 2018/19 season,” said Cohen.
“Our challenge will be off the field,” he said. “We want to establish relationships with new investors and sponsors and to make a commitment to a stronger relationship with the community and more season ticket holders. We will also focus on the Latino community.”
While the Legends have been away, Las Vegas has transformed into a true professional sports market, with the impending arrivals of the NFL’s Raiders and the NHL expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Cohen thinks this will create a favorable environment for a return of the Legends. “It’s a good time to be a professional team in Vegas,” Cohen said. “The sports culture has changed.”
“We want to bring the Legends back. That’s the important thing.”
Tickets are now on sale.