Thursday, August 23, 2007

Will Gary roll the dice on Vegas?

They’re building a sports arena behind the Bally's and Paris hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip with the hope of bringing in an NBA or NHL franchise or possibly both in time for 2010.

Harrah’s Entertainment, the proposed builder of the new arena says the arena complex will be part of Harrah’s master plan for Las Vegas, which will link its nine properties in the Las Vegas area to the 20,000 sports venue.

It's the second hockey rink project announced for Las Vegas in recent times, though the announcement that the big money casino boys are moving in might very well spell the end of the civic plans to construct a rink in downtown Las Vegas.

Harrah’s is partnering with AEG which owns the LA Galaxy (and by extension we guess David Beckham) as well as the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.

Timothy Leiweke, the president and chief executive of AEG says that the group is continuing to have discussions with potential owners and are optimistic about their chances of bringing a pro franchise to the gambling Mecca in time for the arenas grand opening in 2010.

It’s not the first time that Las Vegas has been mentioned as a potential NHL franchise host, two months or so ago Hollywood film maker Jerry Bruckheimer of CSI fame, expressed his interest in placing an NHL team in Vegas. At the time Bruckheimer had held informal talks with NHL officials about his dream, with the NHL suggesting a time frame of some four to five years.

If the Harrah’s/AEG group have their way, that timetable is going to move up pretty fast.

It will be interesting to watch as the various groups sit down to place their bets, and which one will be there at the end of the night.

Darren Rovell of CNBC makes a few valid points about the prospects of the NBA taking a gamble on Las Vegas while in the midst of the biggest gambling scandal in its recent history and he wonders aloud about the business acumen of an organization that is trying to land a franchise from the NHL when its popularity is as low as its been in the US in years.

There’s no tangible proof that pro sports will be a success in the city that is built on diversions, but the thinking is that the first one in will reap the most reward. Then again it's a town that has always been built on dreamers.

As Kenny Rogers might say “You've got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count your money when you're sitting at the table, there’ll be time enough for counting, when the dealing’s done”

Las Vegas Review Journal- Group plans sports arena

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