Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1992 Sacramento Attack

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Sacramento Attack LogoArena Football League (1992)

Founded: May 5, 1992
Folded: Early 1993

Arena: ARCO Arena

Team Colors:

Owner/Operator: Jim Thomas, et al. (Lease team from Arena Football League)

Arena Bowl Championships: None


The Sacramento Attack were a hastily assembled Arena Football League squad that lasted just a single season in the California state capital in 1992. In fact, the Attack played just opened the gates of ARCO Arena in Sacramento during their brief existence.

The franchise had a convoluted back story.  The team was first announced in early March 1992 as an expansion franchise called the L.A. Wings that intended to play in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.  The original ownership group, headed by Jim Hartman, wanted to play in Denver. Hartman acquired the contract rights to most of the players from the Denver Dynamite, a rudderless AFL franchise that had lost its ownership group. For reasons never fully explained, Hartman’s group was either dissuaded or prevented from playing in Denver. Thus the L.A. Wings were born. Hartman hired former Cal star quarterback Joe Kapp, who led the Minnesota Vikings to a berth in Super Bowl IV, as the Wings’ head coach.

One month later the Hartman was out and the Wings were done in L.A. With the start of the 1992 season just three weeks away, the Arena Football League scrambled to find a home for the team.  In early May 1992, the ownership of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings agreed to operate the team on a leased basis at ARCO Arena. Kapp came along for the move, as did many of the former Denver Dynamite players still on the team’s roster. The team name was changed to Sacramento Attack.

The Attack backed in the Arena League playoffs with a 4-6 record.  The team lost in the first round to the eventual champions, the Detroit Drive, on August 7th, 1992.  That was the last appearance of the Sacramento Attack, just 92 days after the team was formed. Sacramento Kings management declined to renew their lease arrangement with the Arena Football League in 1993, choosing to cast their lot with indoor soccer instead to fill summer dates at ARCO Arena.


Sacramento Attack Memorabilia


Attack Video

Brief clip of the Sacramento Attack on the road at the Arizona Rattlers on June 13, 1992.



Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs



1986-2013 Sacramento Capitals

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Sacramento CapitalsWorld Team Tennis (1986-2013)

Born: 1986 – WTT expansion franchise
Moved: February 4, 2014 (Las Vegas Neon)


  • 1986: ARCO Arena
  • 1987-2001: Gold River Racquet Club (2,600)
  • 2002-2006: Sunrise Mall
  • 2007-2010: Westfield Galleria (2,400)
  • 2011-2013: Sunrise Mall (2,500)

Team Colors:

  • 1986-1987: Red & Blue
  • 2012: Red, Blue & Yellow



The Sacramento Capitals were, for many years, the oldest and most successful franchise in Billie Jean King’s long-running World Team Tennis promotion.  The Capitals played a league record 28 seasons and their six championships (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 & 2007) also remain a league-best.

The Capitals began life in the summer of 1986 at ARCO Arena, home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.  During the 1970’s and 80’s, many Team Tennis franchises played in big NHL and NBA arenas, but as the league’s business model scaled down and stabilized in the 1990’s, most clubs shifted to country clubs and resort hotels with bleacher-style seating for a few thousand spectators.  The Caps followed this model too, leaving ARCO after one season for the Gold River Racquet Club in 1987.  After 15 summers at Gold River, the Caps spent most of the 2000’s playing at shopping center parking lots where they would erect and dismantle temporary stadia every July.

World Team Tennis is a co-ed sport and the doubles game factors prominently in the scoring system.  Most WTT players are relatively unknown tour professionals, often doubles specialists.  The league’s marketing plan is reliant on the signing of several “marquee players” each summer who serve as tent pole attractions to fill seats around the league.  Andre Agassi was one such player for the Caps, playing three summers for Sacramento from 2002 to 2004.  Anna Kournikova appeared for Sacramento during their final championship season in 2007.  Michael Chang played for the Caps in 2009 and 2010.  In other years, the Capitals featured no household names, but Northern California tennis fans could look forward to seeing superstars such as Pete Sampras and Venus Williams who came through town with opposing teams.

As stable as the Capitals seemed during their near-three decade residency, the franchise went through numerous ownership changes in its final years as the team’s various financial backers went through legal and financial troubles.  Long-time owner Lonnie Nielson lost control of the team in 2010 after being charged in an embezzling scheme in his real estate business.  He would be sentenced to seven years in prison in 2011.  Nielson’s partner Bob Cook took over the Caps on his own in 2011, but declared bankruptcy at the end of the year after his Le Rivage Hotel development in Sacramento went sour.  The worst, however, was yet to come.

After Cook went bust, a former owner of the team, Ramey Osborne, stepped back into the picture and rescued the team with the help of a man named Deepal Wannakuwatte.  Wannakuwatte presented himself as a successful entrepreneur who built a $100 million medical supply business in Sacramento.  In fact, Wannakuwatte’s surgical glove company was practically worthless and his real source of wealth was a decade-long $150 million Ponzi scheme.  No one was any wiser during the Capitals’ final two seasons under Wannakuwatte’s ownership in 2012 and 2013.

In early February 2014, Wannakuwatte announced that the franchise would move to Las Vegas and become the Las Vegas Neon after 28 years in Sacramento.  Less than two weeks after he held his introductory press conference in Sin City, the feds closed in and arrested him.  World TeamTennis revoked and disbanded the Las Vegas Neon franchise on March 5th, 2014, one month and one day after the club was introduced.  Wannakuwatte plead guilty to fraud charges in May 2014 and is awaiting sentencing, which is expected to be upwards of 20 years in prison.



Sacramento Capitals promotional video for sponsorship sales.  Circa 2011 or 2012.



World TeamTennis Media Guides

World TeamTennis Programs


1993-2001 Sacramento Knights

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Sacramento KnightsContinental Indoor Soccer League (1993-1997)
Premier Soccer Alliance (1998)
World Indoor Soccer League (1999-2001)

Born: July 7, 1992 – CISL founding franchise.
Folded: 2001

Arena: ARCO Arena (10,630)

Team Colors: Black, Silver, Orange & Blue



The Sacramento Knights were an indoor soccer team that played for nearly a decade under the management of successive ownership groups of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings franchise.  The basic details of this club are mostly indistinguishable from hundreds of other defunct teams here on FWIL – team forms, muddles along in obscurity for several years and then is quietly euthanized.  So before running through those mundane details, I’ll just tell you the strangest thing in the Knights file:

Ex-Knights General Manager Hubert Rotteveel, once a member of UCLA’s 1985 national champion soccer team, became a bank robber after the demise of the Knights.  And not a great one.  On June 30, 2010, a bike helmet and spandex-clad Rotteveel robbed two Sacramento area banks with a BB gun.  He was caught cycling away from the second bank when the dye pack in his loot exploded in front of a patrol car.  Rotteveel, by most accounts a well-liked and respected executive during his soccer years, is eligible for release in 2014, but still faces additional fraud charges related his former real estate business.

Sacramento KnightsANYWAY … What happened to the Knights?  Original owner Jim Thomas purchased the club as a founding member of the Continental Indoor Soccer League in September 1992, a few months after he acquired control of the Kings.  The CISL, which existed from 1993 until 1997, initially attracted a number of NBA ownership groups besides Thomas and the Kings, but enthusiasm for the league and the sport of indoor soccer declined in the mid-1990’s.  NBA owners began to look to the new WNBA to fill summer dates in their arenas instead.  In addition to the Knights, the Sacramento Kings ownership also operated the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs during the summer months. Coincidentally or not, the debut season of the WNBA in 1997 also proved to be the final year for the CISL, which folded in December 1997.

The Knights did play on, however, joining several other CISL refuges in pair of lower-profile successor leagues starting in 1998.

When Thomas sold controlling interest in the Kings to Maloof Sports & Entertainment in 1999, the Knights were thrown in with the deal.  The Maloofs operated the Knights for three more seasons through 2001 before folding the team.

The Knights won the championship of the World Indoor Soccer League (WISL) in 1999.  They also appeared in the championship series – but lost – for the CISL in 1995 and the Premier Soccer Alliance in 1998.


==Sacramento Knights Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1994 6/16/1994 vs. San Jose Grizzlies  ?? Program


==In Memoriam==

Former Knights Head Coach Keith Weller (1994-1997) died of cancer on November 12, 2004 at age 58.



Continental Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Continental Indoor Soccer League Programs


2000 Sacramento Monarchs

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2000 Sacramento Monarchs Media Guide
Women’s National Basketball Association Media Guides
130 pages

It’s one of the hoary old standards of any group ticket sales department: buy a block of 20 or more tickets and we’ll put your name in lights!  In other words, we’ll put the name of your camp/church/school/business/bachelor party up on the Jumbotron for all to see.  It’s a value-add that thrills fans and requires no expense and very little work from the ball club.  Pretty much a win-win all the way around.

Except not so much for the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA back in the summer of 2000.  The club stumbled into a national PR dust up over the issue of welcoming lesbian groups on the ARCO Arena videoboard.  In doing so, the Monarchs ultimately brought the topic of WNBA fan demographics and marketing tactics into the national conversation.

So here’s what happened.  A group of lesbian Monarchs fans, which included some season ticket holders, purchased a block of 40 tickets to a game during the summer of 2000.  When their ticket sales rep asked for a name for the videoboard, the group leader said the name was the “Davis Dykes.”

Now I’m going to interrupt the story right here and insert an unsolicited opinion, while acknowledging I don’t have all of the facts.  But it seems to me that this group of fans – which, again, included season ticket holders who presumably loved the Monarchs – put their club in a really difficult position here.  I can’t think of any scenario where I would have allowed a derogatory term for someone’s racial heritage, sexual orientation or religious beliefs on the scoreboard at any of the teams that I worked for, regardless of whether that term had been co-opted, re-framed or embraced by the group it used to be directed against.

But back to the story and the Monarchs first misstep (in my opinion).  Saying no to the “Davis Dykes” group name was an easy call.  Most teams would have done it, I believe.  But then the front office let themselves get drawn into a negotiation over alternative names, which later was leaked to the press.  And in doing so, the Monarchs and the WNBA appeared to reveal a sense of unease – or at least uncertainty – about how to reconcile their sizable GLBT fan base with the modern-day cliche of positioning sub-Major League sporting events as “affordable family entertainment”.

After rejecting the “Davis Dykes” name, the Monarchs front office also surprisingly (to me, anyway) rejected the name “Davis Lesbians”.  Ultimately, the two sides agreed on the name “Davis Rainbow Womyn”.  When the press got hold of the situation, it provided a couple of unhappy PR outcomes.  First, fairly or unfairly, it created the perception that the Monarchs were uncomfortable in acknowledging the obvious presence of lesbians in their fan base.  Second, the rather silly progression of the haggling from “dykes” to “rainbow womyn” provided an irresistible rhetorical truncheon with which knuckle-dragging WNBA antagonists could pummel the four-year old league on the internet and in the broader popular culture.  A ready-made punchline to assert the view that the WNBA was both figuratively and literally too gay – i.e. a slow/boring/lame/unathletic game attended by too many homos.

But there was a happy ending of sorts…

During the ensuing off season, Monarchs owner Joe Maloof took a personal interest in the issue.  In July 2001, the Monarchs hosted a Gay Pride Night, with cooperation and promotion from some of the women from the Davis Dykes group.   The game drew 9,365 fans to ARCO Arena, a surge of more than 15% over the team’s average that season.

In the year following the Monarchs/Dykes dust up, lesbian marketing among WNBA clubs drew substantial press coverage from the likes of USA Today, Time Magazine, Business Week and ESPN, with a focus on what the strategy meant for the league’s stagnant crowd building efforts.   But James Bowman of the Swish Appeal blog makes an argument here that the WNBA’s outreach to a lesbian audience is more of a pendulum swing, rather than a consistent strategy.

The WNBA is still grappling with much broader issue of crowd building, but the Monarchs no longer are.  The Maloofs folded the team in November 2009 after thirteen seasons of play.





Written by AC

May 7th, 2012 at 10:58 pm


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