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Who Were the Sacramento Gold Miners?
The Sacramento Gold Miners were a team that played in the Canadian Football League between 1993 and 1995. The Gold Miners had previously played in the World League of American Football (WLAF) as the Sacramento Surge and later relocated to San Antonio adopting the nickname Texans. The team’s home ground was the Hornet Stadium.
How did the Sacramento Gold Miners Start Up?
In the early 1990s, the CFL was unrolling an ambitious expansion into the United States and many American cities received expansion franchises. In 1993 Surge owner Fred Anderson was awarded a franchise for the city of Sacramento. With the WLAF having winded up operations after the 1992 season, Anderson basically enrolled his team wholly intact including uniform and staff into the CFL. The Gold Miners became the first US team to participate in the CFL.
The Sacramento Gold Miners in Competition
The Gold Miners’ first CFL game was a 32-12 loss to the Ottawa Rough Riders. They had to wait until their fourth game for their first win but then were back to their hapless selves, winning just one of their next six games. Eventually they finished the season with a 6-12 record, only good enough for last place in the West Division. This was a positive record though as it was the first time that a CFL expansion team had won six games in their first season.
During the 1994 season, the CFL introduced three new American teams; the Shreveport Pirates, Las Vegas Posse and the Baltimore Stallions. Their season opening game against the Posse on July 8, 1994 was the first ever all-American CFL game. The Gold Miners lost 32-26 to the Posse. The then won the next three games, signaling their determination to improve over the previous season. They then had to wait another six games for their next win but recovered well to finish the second part of the season strongly. They had a 9-1-8 record which placed them third in the West Division.
Sacramento Gold Miners’ Most Notable Players
David Archer QB 1993-1994
Rod Harris WR 1993-1994
Carl Parker WR 1993-1994
George Bethune DT 1993-1994
Mike Pringle RB 1993-1994
Mike Oliphant RB 1993-1994
Malcolm Frank DB 1994
Mike Kiselak C 1993-1994
Kay Stephenson QB 1993-1994
Sacramento Gold Miners Most Notable Moments
During the last game of the 1994 season, the Miners had a real shot at playoff football. Had they won the game, they would have finished the season with a 10-7-1 record which would have ranked them fourth ahead of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. However a poor call by the officials saw a game-winning touchdown pass from David Archer to Freeman Baysinger incorrectly ruled to have short-hopped. Replays however showed that Baysinger had caught the ball cleanly. This would turn out to be the Miners’ last game in Sacramento as they relocated to San Antonio after the end of the season.
What Happened to the Sacramento Gold Miners?
Despite being one of the weakest teams in the league, the determination of the Gold Mine owners to see it succeed made it one of the more stable teams in the league. However, during the first season, the team found itself isolated, with no other American team in the league. The Gold Miners had to travel nearly 900 miles to their nearest opponents, the BC Lions.
During the 1994 season, the CFL added four new American teams and this made the financial burden a bit lighter especially with the Posse 200 miles away. This situation did not last long though as the Posse folded at the end of the season, leaving Sacramento isolated once again even from their American counterparts. Competition from the San Francisco 49ers and the potential entry of the Oakland Raiders further complicated matters for the Miners. The condition of the Hornet Stadium was also something that the league had a problem with because it was not suitable for professional football.
Attendance was around 15000 per game over the two seasons but many of those tickets were given for free. Attempts by Anderson to have the city renovate the Hornet Stadium or build a new stadium fell through and he decided to relocate the team to San Antonio for the 1995 CFL season. The team newly renamed as the San Antonio Texans, moved into the brand new Alamodome in downtown San Antonio.
San Antonio was on paper a better market than Sacramento because it was much closer to other American franchises. The Texans would however play only one season before folding in the mass extinction of American teams that marked the end of the CFL’s American experiment.