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September 2, 2014

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Wranglers weighing three options for a new home for 2014-’15

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

Fans look on from behind the glass as Las Vegas Wranglers goaltender Mitch O’Keefe stands in his goal after giving up a breakaway goal to the San Francisco Bulls during the second period of play on Sunday afternoon.

Regrettable Tattoo night @ the Wranglers

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Provided scant time to find a new home, Billy Johnson has recorded a hat trick.

The Las Vegas Wranglers president said he will inform ECHL officials Monday that they have three viable options in Las Vegas to play home games for the 2014-2015 season.

Monday is the deadline the league established to receive formal notification from the team that it will be able to sign an agreement for a new home in Las Vegas. Johnson and team owner Gary Jacobs have been busy in meetings in Las Vegas over the past week.

If the Wranglers’ brass can convince the ECHL that a deal is in the offing — and Johnson is confident of that — they will be given an extension of as long as two weeks to finalize an agreement.

During an appearance this afternoon on KVVU Fox 5, Johnson was asked if there was a venue he could eliminate as the team’s home for 2014-2015. He said, “Orleans Arena” and repeated that answer later in a text message. What Johnson and Jacobs have been seeking is at least a temporary facility that would seat 2,500 to 4000 fans and serve as its home venue for 2014-’15.

The Wranglers were left scrambling as Orleans hotel-casino and Boyd Gaming officials declined to renew the team’s contract to play at Orleans Arena, its home since 2003. The final edict was issued in an email from Orleans General Manager Tony Taubel to Jacobs on Dec. 14, a little more than a month before the ECHL deadline.

Since it was reported on Dec. 31 that the team was, in fact, looking for a new home in Las Vegas, local support for the franchise has boomed. A Save the Las Vegas Wranglers Facebook page not officially affiliated with the team was launched Dec. 31 and has drawn nearly 8,000 likes.

In an interview this month, Johnson recalled driving in Las Vegas with Jacobs and, “Gary and I were saying, ‘Holy moly, this thing means something to people.’ We have real momentum. Why stop it?”

Today, Johnson said that he hopes to turn the team’s next home game — which is Friday, Jan. 31 — into a celebration. For the team’s devoted fan base, that would be a much-deserved party.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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