Las Vegas Lights Denies FAA Claim It Warned Soccer Club About $10K Cash Drop Halftime Promo (VIDEO)

Posted on: October 4, 2019, 03:03h. 

Last updated on: October 4, 2019, 05:14h.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating a halftime promotional event at a professional soccer game in Las Vegas last month involving a helicopter that dropped cash and casino vouchers on the field for selected fans to collect. However, while Las Vegas Lights FC is not the target of the agency’s review, the team’s owner told Friday he disputed a claim club officials were told they could not conduct a giveaway in such a manner.

The Las Vegas Lights held a cash drop promotion during a game last year, shown above. Club CEO Brett Lashbrook disputed an FAA claim that the agency told them not to hold another, which the club did last month. The pilot involved in that drop is under investigation. (Image: Las Vegas Lights FC)

On Sept. 7, the Lights, which play in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship league, held its second annual “Helicopter Money Drop.” The team hired Skyline Helicopter Tours, a North Las Vegas company, to fly above Cashman Field for the event, which was sponsored by Plaza Hotel and Casino.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told Friday that the agency is investigating the pilot who flew the helicopter for flying at a low altitude in a crowded area. Specifically, FAA regulations state a pilot flying in a congested area must maintain an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within 2,000 feet of the helicopter.

Attendance for the Saturday night game was 6,308 in Las Vegas.

“We investigated a similar incident at a Lights game last year and required the pilot to go through remedial training,” Gregor said. “The pilot and helicopter company involved in this year’s incident are different from those involved in last year’s incident.”

Gregor said the agency explained why such an event couldn’t be held.

“We didn’t expect to see a repeat,” he said.

Lights CEO: Event ‘Widely Promoted’

Brett Lashbrook, the Lights owner and CEO, said the FAA never told his team they couldn’t do the cash drop again.

This was widely promoted from months on end,” he said. “This was incredibly widely promoted. We did nothing to hide this. We did everything we could to shout this from the mountaintop… We promoted this far-and-wide. It’s our biggest game of the year. For the FAA to now act surprised that it was going to occur with all the public promotion and the flight plans that were submitted is incredibly surprising for us to hear.”

A Google search showed the team promoted the event as early as February, a month before the second-tier professional league began its 2019 season. In addition, videos and social media posts were found also hyping the event.

Lashbrook told that the club selected some season ticket holders and others bought single-game tickets to the Sept. 7 game against El Paso. At halftime, the roughly 300 fans wearing Plaza t-shirts made their way to the field.

Video from the game shows the helicopter hovering over the field at about the same height as the field’s light banks.

Lashbrook commended Skyline for its professionalism in handling the flight and noted that helicopters have been used in similar fashion at other events, such as bringing the game ball to start a sporting contest.

“We continue to believe that this is hands down, without a doubt, the best half time promotion in all of professional sports,” he said in an interview Thursday night. “And, that we hope that it can continue for years to come.”

A request for comment to Skyline was not immediately returned Friday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the Plaza Hotel said the casino had no comment, since it did not coordinate the event.

What’s Next?

Gregor said there was no time frame for when the FAA will wrap up its investigation.

However, if the second year ends up being the last for the Lights’ cash drop, then Lashbrook will find another way to promote his team. After all, Lashbrook said his hero is legendary sports owner Bill Veeck, the man who came up with such classic promotions as Disco Demolition Night and 10-cent beer night back in the 1970s.

“Obviously, we will fully comply with the FAA and we are with their investigation,” Lashbrook said. “If they change the rules or amend the rules for us not to do it in year three, we won’t do it. We’ll come up with a bigger and better and more fun halftime promotion. But we are a soccer party and the government can’t stop that.”