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The future of a Gillette football team is more certain after its owner inks a contract with Cam-plex

Gillette Mustangs

The future of the Gillette Mustangs, a mid-level minor league professional football team playing in the Champions Indoor Football (CIF) league, was uncertain after this upcoming season due to rent and other expense-related issues with the Cam-plex, the team’s host venue. However, recent talks with the Campbell County Land Board, which oversees the Cam-plex and Cam-plex management have extended their stay for three seasons.

“We had three in-person meetings as well as numerous emails as well as I think we did one or two webcam meetings, quite a few,” said Steve Titus, a Gillette attorney and owner of the team. “There's a lot of work that went into it both on the Cam-plex side as well as the messaging side of things to try to really narrow down the issues and try to get them resolved.”

The three-year agreement was the result of better communication between the owner of the team and the Cam-plex. Aaron Lyles was hired on as the Cam-plex’s Executive Director late last year, which helped in better understanding where management is working to take the facilities. This comes as city and county officials have increasingly put an emphasis on sports tourism.

“There's a lot of it [in the agreement that] holds the Mustangs accountable,” Titus said. “After the conversations over the last few months, I've learned a lot more and I guess I understand where they're coming from a lot more, and I think that this is a bigger picture thing for the Campbell County community of what exactly do you want the Cam-plex to be.”

The agreement addresses other contentious points which were able to be narrowed down. Those include a base rent for the arena per game as well as entry fees for attendees.

“Even though the base rents are the same, we were able to really narrow down some of the add ons, less than some of those to where it made more sense for the home games to be at the Cam-plex,” Titus said.

The Mustangs, formerly known as the Wyoming Mustangs until their renaming in 2022, will play their 2023 season at the Cam-plex’s Wyoming Center as they have since their inception as an expansion team in the league in 2021.

The CIF is one of the lower tiers of professional football. Other tiers include the USFL [United States Football League], the IFL [Indoor Football League], and the XFL in addition to the more notable NFL [National Football League], the CFL [Canadian Football League].

The 2023 season, which begins in early March and runs into June with playoffs. The championship game will take place in June if the team makes it that far.

Attendance at Mustang home games has varied from approximately 2,500 to 3,000 spectators. Titus said the team is one of the leaders in CIF attendance.

Lyles previously indicated that attendance needs to increase somewhat for the Cam-plex to consider long-term, high-dollar capital upgrades, such as installing a scoreboard. However, discussions between the Campbell County Land Board, Cam-plex, and Titus are moving toward possibly installing a video screen that could be used as a scoreboard and that could be used for other sporting events and even graduation ceremonies for Gillette’s two high schools. Titus also hopes to boost attendance this season.

Despite the differences between the teams owner and its host venue, there are some commonalities and hopes that both sides agree on.

“The Mustangs have a partner in Cam-plex, and I think that our attitude and an approach going forward to our mutual success is what is going to bind us,” Lyles said. "Anywhere we can help, I think it again, it goes back to we just need more people attending games, and so I'm excited about the fact that we're able to have that conversation [with Titus], because on behalf of Cam-plex, let's go see the Mustangs.”

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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