Years in league: 1993-1994
Owner: Fred Anderson
Stadium: Hornet Field (24,000)
Colors: Aqua and Old Gold
Overall Regular Season Record: 15-20-1
Overall Playoff Record: 0-0
Yearly Standings and Average Home Attendances1993: 6-12 (16,979)
1994: 9-8-1 (14,226)
The Gold Miners were the "descendants" of the Sacramento Surge of the NFL-operated World League of American Football. A handful of players from the Surge, including their quarterback David Archer (shown at right), slotback Rod Harris and defensive tackle George Bethune played for the Gold Miners. The Gold Miners were the first CFL American team and set a record their first season for most wins by a first-year CFL team (the record was broken by Baltimore in 1994).
Their all-US cast took some time to learn the intricacies of the Canadian game, going 6-12 in their first season, and just missing the playoffs in 1994 by going 9-8-1. The team was ably led by QB Archer. Other standout players included Mike Oliphant and Mike Pringle.
They made CFL history in 1993 on three occasions: Their first game on July 7, when they lost to Ottawa, 32-23 marked the first ever regular-season game between a Canadian team and a team based outside of Canada. On July 17, they hosted Calgary and lost, 38-36. It marked the first regular-season CFL game played between a Canadian and American team on American soil. On July 24, they recorded their first win vs Saskatchewan, 37-26 and became the first American team to win a regular-season CFL game.
The Miners had very competent management working under owner Fred Anderson, perhaps the only truly dedicated US CFL owner. Anderson's sidekick Tom Bass oversaw the operation, run by coach Kay Stephenson and GM Tom Huiskens. As with the team, it took Stephenson some time to adapt to the Canadian game, but he was eventually successful.
The problems in Sacramento, however, were hard to overcome. Since the San Antonio club that was also supposed to be a part of the 93 expansion had folded prematurely, the Miners were the only American team in the CFL during the 1993 campaign. They had to market themselves, receiving no assistance from the league. Also, competition from the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University hurt attendance. Rickety Hornet Field kept fans away--it was made up mostly of temporary grandstands with no real stadium amenities (facilities were threadbare, only port-a-potties were provided for fans). Fred Anderson wanted to change this situation by building a new stadium in Sacramento for the Miners and his minor-league baseball club. He planned to complete a project that had been started several years earlier to lure the Raiders to Sacramento, but had ended up being mothballed. Anderson, however, could not come to terms with the local governments, and ended up moving to San Antonio after the 1994 season.
Attendance hovered around the 15,000 range in Sacramento, but it was widely known that as many as 2,000 of the 15,000 per game were given free tickets.