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Spokane Empire

ArenaCup no Vegas vacation

Shackleford (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Shackleford (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

It was one of the topics on Spokane Shock head coach Adam Shackleford’s agenda during a team meeting Monday.

Spokane faces Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the ArenaCup on Saturday in Las Vegas, which certainly doesn’t lack for entertainment options.

“We made it very clear that there will be a curfew, like there always is, but it’s important that it’s not completely regimented,” Shackleford said. “These guys have earned the right to see Las Vegas. When you have it at a neutral site like Vegas, where it is so appealing, that’s one of the reasons guys want to experience it.

“You hear stories every year about guys doing the wrong things the night before the (big) game. As a coach, I feel good that we don’t have those kinds of guys. We also have two days after the game. We’re not coming back until Monday and that will ease any temptation as well.”

The Shock depart Thursday for Las Vegas. Curfew will be at midnight the first night and 11:30 p.m. Friday. Shackleford said the team has always traveled well and he doesn’t anticipate any problems this week.

It’ll be Shackleford’s first venture outside the confines of the Las Vegas airport.

“There’s one slot machine, Wheel of Fortune, at the airport that I’ve won several times,” he said. “So when we have a layover I run over and play it.”

Receiver Andy Olson and linebacker Kevin McCullough have never been to Vegas.

“They’ll allow us to have some fun before the game,” Olson said. “It’s just not taking it overboard and making sure you stay within certain boundaries and get to sleep at a decent time. I’m used to being in bed early because I have kids.”

McCullough views it as a business trip.

“They have so many events scheduled for us we’ll be busy,” he said. “After the game, like anybody that goes to Vegas, we’ll try to enjoy it.”

Players need to look after each other, defensive end Ben McCombs said: “If I see guys messing around, I’m going to tell them to go back to the room. This team is very professional and everybody really wants this game.”

Dollars and sense

Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said the ArenaCup is essentially a break-even proposition financially. The Orleans, site of Saturday’s game, is paying for airfare and hotels for the teams. Nelson is picking up the tab for sending additional Shock staff and the dance team.

“It’s all part of a championship game and that’s just the cost of doing business,” said Nelson, who anticipates a travel party of 60-70.

The Shock made a small profit hosting last year’s ArenaCup, but most of that was used to pay travel and hotel costs for Tennessee Valley and arenafootball2 personnel, Nelson said.

Af2’s future figures to dominate the league meetings in Las Vegas. Nelson declined to discuss specifics, but said there is a “lot in the works. It’s going to interesting in the weeks following ArenaCup when we announce stuff we decide, where we’re going. It’s going to be exciting for our fans, no question about it.”

Sauk, Ingold make Hall

The initial af2 Hall of Fame class includes ex-Spokane assistant coach Matt Sauk and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach Rich Ingold, the league announced.

Sauk is one of four players in the 10-member class. He was the 2001 rookie of the year as Tennessee Valley’s quarterback and 2005 offensive player of the year with Louisville. Mitch Allner, a record-setting receiver, will be honored. Allner is the head coach for Tulsa, which lost to Spokane 51-44 in the National Conference championship last Saturday.

Ingold leads af2 in career coaching wins with 91.