Hello, folks, I am back after spending the past week in Las Vegas. I spent the week mainly in sports books watching nonstop basketball and soccer games. If I had been in Canada, I would have been stuck with hockey and curling coverage all week instead on TV.
I also would have been subjected to ice and snow. No doubt about it, this was the best weather I have ever experienced on any of my winter trips to Vegas, with temps there climbing into the 70s. We had none of this “snowbomb” business, unlike many other parts of North America lately (ie. Saskatchewan).
So, the latest is 59 people have died, 527 injured.
I have had a hard time processing all of this today. Right now, I feel like crawling under a rock, or sticking some DVDs in the DVD player, just to get away from all the bad news.
Below, some Twitter tweets.
Wednesday in Las Vegas is the NHL Awards and the expansion draft for the new Vegas Golden Knights. I hope Gary Bettman and all these NHL players in town for the awards are enjoying sweltering in the Nevada desert as we hit the first day of summer.
I was reading this piece in the Daily Mail saying how the streets were deserted because people were hiding out from the 117 degree F heat! That other great hockey town Phoenix, Arizona hit an even worse 120 F today as well.
This heat is so bad that planes cannot take off, and you’d fry your hands by simply opening the doors outside! As a Canadian, I simply cannot get my head around this sort of extreme temperature. (To think that I once thought Toronto was a hot place.) Anyway, I hope these new Golden Knights players enjoy getting fried to a crisp while walking the streets in Las Vegas.
I am spending NCAA Selection Sunday watching auto racing. On today is the Kobalt 400, the only Las Vegas stop of the season for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series.
But not for long. It was announced this week that Las Vegas will be getting a second Cup series weekend in the fall, starting in 2018. It will be replacing one of the two New Hampshire races on the schedule. Helping ease the move is that Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns both tracks. The move makes sense, since attendance in Las Vegas is better anyway.
All in all, it’s more great pro sports news for Vegas with the arrival of its new NHL team the Vegas Golden Knights, the announcement UFC will hold four events a year at T-Mobile Arena, and news the Raiders-to-Vegas move is back on track. Now, honestly, I have been of the opinion for a while that Las Vegas doesn’t need the NFL. What they have there now in terms of sports options is more than enough; any city that has an NHL team plus major NASCAR and UFC events on a regular basis would be doing quite well, thanks. Heck, they even have Sevens Rugby every year. But if they really want the NFL there, fine.
The other news is that this is the opening weekend for Indycar and they held their race earlier today in St. Petersburg, Florida, won by Sebastien Bourdais. Of course, whenever I see these races going in places like St. Petersburg, and Las Vegas, not to mention these golf tournaments from Florida, I get all jealous about the weather conditions compared to here, in frozen Canada. (I guess it’s supposed to warm up.) See, this is why I tune in, to get my mind off of the cold.
Also, I read an article in the New York Times about how Indycar was no longer spinning its wheels and how interest is up. You could have fooled me, though, because my own personal interest is down, and the reason is all because I live nowhere near any IndyCar races anymore. Of course, there used to be a race in Edmonton that I would go to regularly, but now it’s just Toronto on the schedule.
If Indycar is serious about getting fans back in Canada, they need another race here in western Canada where people can go and watch the race live. There have been rumors that may actually happen, though; there has been talk of IndyCar expanding their schedule and rumor is one of those additions could be a street race in Calgary, Alberta.
Well, if that were to happen I’d be interested in going to it, assuming I still live somewhere within driving distance of Calgary, Alberta by then. Right now, the IndyCar race which is the closest proximity to where I live now is the one in Newton, Iowa!!
Not only that, the closest Major League Baseball and NBA teams are in Minneapolis, the closest MLS team is in Vancouver, and the closest NHL team is in Edmonton!! Man, I miss big city life, when these sports were only a subway ride away.
You know, the National Football League is having its problems lately. Its TV ratings are still taking a dive and people are still blaming it on all kinds of things: backlash from the anthem protests, competition from the presidential debates, you name it.
But there is at least one place which still holds the NFL in high esteem. Nevada.
Today, its State Senate voted 16-5 in favor of a deal for a new Las Vegas domed stadium to try and lure the Oakland Raiders. It needed two-thirds support to pass, and made it. I guess what put it over the top was intense lobbying by the trade unions to put all these unemployed construction workers in Las Vegas back to work.
This deal includes a hike to the room taxes in all the hotels. Apparently, though, the room tax would go up by just under a percent. I don’t exactly know what this means in plain English, but if it’s going to be only a slight increase I could probably live with it as a tourist. I’ll simply stay one less night in Vegas, then, on my trips there (hee hee).
(Or perhaps I’ll do what Paulina Gretzky does and go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico instead on vacation. Think about that, Vegas.)
Still, this is not a done deal yet, this goes to the Assembly on Thursday where this could still run into problems.
Keep in mind there is a lot of public money going into this proposal — $750 million — and the whole stadium project is estimated at $1.9 billion!! That, folks, is absolutely ridiculous. Here in Saskatchewan, they just finished building a new pro football stadium for the Roughriders with public funding, and people here already think it is an absolute palace compared to the old place, and it only cost $278 million! And yet there are people here who think that is a lot of money!
Anyway, it just shows you what lengths leaders in Las Vegas and in Nevada will go to, just to bring an NFL team there. Personally, I think the overall price tag is a waste of money and that Las Vegas is already doing well with what they have there now (NASCAR, new NHL team, the fights, etc.), but I guess they really, really want the NFL. I guess I can’t blame them; if I were living there I’d probably want the NFL, too.
$1.9 billion dollars for a new stadium for the Raiders; that is insane.
It’s going to be very strange the next time I am in Las Vegas without the Riviera there in its usual spot across the street from Circus Circus. What was still left of the place was imploded last night.
So it’s official: Las Vegas is getting an NHL expansion franchise for a fee of $500 million. People are happy in Vegas, but a lot of reaction from Canadian fans is crying about how Quebec City and all of Canada got the shaft from Gary Bettman.
Well, Canadians can cry all they want, but a $500 million expansion fee comes to $640 million Canadian factoring in the exchange rate. That’s a ridiculous sum of money, folks, that Quebec would have had to pay just to get into the league.
Frankly, I think Quebec City would be better off trying to get a CFL team in there. They can at least afford that.
It appears Las Vegas’s days as a non-major league city will soon be over. Reports are that the NHL’s expansion committee has recommended expansion to Las Vegas for 2017-18. It sounds like the deal will be done June 22, just in time for the NHL Awards also happening in Vegas.
If true, the brand-new T-Mobile Arena will be the proud new home of the team. The NHL will be the first North American big-4 “major league” to set up in Las Vegas — barely beating out the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in arriving in the city. But I’m not even sure the NFL will even come to Vegas, because it sounds like a Raiders’ move there depends heavily on public money for a stadium. We’ll see.
A lot of the comments online are very negative towards the NHL in Vegas, they seem to be trashing Las Vegas as a hockey market and are suggesting it will never fly there. This reminds me of all the people who were saying “pro lacrosse will never fly in Saskatoon,” and where are they now? In hiding, most of them. In particular, folks at FiveThirtyEight insist Las Vegas is a terrible market for NHL hockey, yet these same fools also once insisted that Donald Trump would never win the Republican nomination. So that site’s credibility is down to nothing, in my opinion.
I truly think being the first major league to make it into Vegas will help their cause a lot. Plus, I think fans will really be impressed with that new arena of theirs and want to go to games there. Besides, as I see it, if the NHL can work in Anaheim or Tampa Bay it can also work in Vegas. Good marketing and good promotion will go a long way.
This will make trips to Las Vegas far more interesting in the future. We await the official announcement.
They imploded part of the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in the wee hours of the morning in the only way Las Vegas knows how — with all the fireworks. With that, another legendary piece of Vegas history is now rubble.
So long, and thanks for the memories.
It’s on! The World Series of Poker has started this week in Las Vegas at the Rio (as of May 31) and we are counting down to the first winner tonight. Tonight they are holding the final table of the Casino Employees’ championship, the event in which the casino workers, dealers, etc., all try their luck at winning at poker. It is restricted to casino employees, keeping out all of these bigshot poker players that you see on TV, but the winner wins the same WSOP bracelet that the bigshots are awarded in these other events. The last time I checked, the final table was down to three people, and they were on a dinner break. Updates here.
Also on now is the Colossus. That is that massive event basically open to any poker player walking in off the street and looking to win at the WSOP. For a very affordable $565 buy-in, you could end up winning a million dollars, guaranteed. There is something like 22,000 people participating in this including many big names, so it’s massive.
Last year a fellow named Cord Garcia won it and he took home $638,880. Final table for this year’s event should be next Tuesday.
We are still a long way off from the $10,000 Main Event which is the most prestigious event right at the end. Last year Joe McKeehen won the event and took home $7.68 million! There are 69 events, in total. The full tournament schedule is here. Also, the live reporting can be found here and live streams are here, and the streaming schedule is here.
The WSOP is worth following simply to try and improve your own poker game, and also to see the different variants of poker and how different the rules are for each one of them.
Anyway, following the WSOP is another one of these good boredom-fighting activities I always look forward to when the warmer weather arrives, along with watching baseball, golf tournaments and auto races, summer blockbuster movies, and every four years, the USA political conventions (!). It all helps make summer something to look forward to.
Also, this has been a very big week for poker already because results are in from the 2016 $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl held earlier this week at ARIA Las Vegas, and you can find out how that event went here.
Last night one person was killed and 37 more injured when a car struck a number of pedestrians near the Paris Las Vegas casino, not far from Planet Hollywood where this year’s disastrous Miss Universe Pageant was wrapping up. Police are saying this tragedy was an “intentional act.”
My immediate thought was that it could easily have been me down there. Folks, when I made my decision to pass on Las Vegas and go to Cuba for my winter vacation this year, it was fear of something like this happening that was on my mind. I just did not have a good feeling about a trip to Vegas. I was concerned about terrorism, and concerned about gun violence, and concerned about the general overall craziness of life down in the USA. This definitely falls under “general overall craziness.” All in all, the whole USA seems like a good place to avoid right now.
So that is my thought on that tragedy. As for my thoughts on the debacle that was the Miss Universe Pageant itself, I’ll save those until later.
It was announced today that FOX has picked up the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. And to show you how out of the loop I have been lately on this, I didn’t even know that Donald Trump had sold the pageant to IMG back in September.
This explains why these pageants were able to get back on network television so quickly. Of course, the most recent Miss USA pageant ended up on Reelz Channel this year after Trump’s anti-Mexico comments caused such a furore and got both the Miss USA and Miss Universe telecasts kicked off of NBC.
I wonder whether this might also mean that some of the Latin American countries, these ones who said they were going to pull out of Miss Universe because of Trump, are going to come back now. Anyway, it’s good to see this pageant back on its feet.
Also, I notice it’s being held in Las Vegas in December!! Hey, here’s an idea: maybe I could head down there for a winter getaway vacation just in time for the Miss Universe pageant. I might get to see the beautiful Miss Universe contestants out and about, or even get some autographs. Who knows.
With the World Series of Poker still on in Las Vegas, I have been trying to keep up with the live streams from that tournament. I guess the biggest news so far came when Phil Hellmuth won his 14th bracelet. Then there was the story of the guy who entered the wrong tournament by accident, and then ended up winning the whole thing.
But the real story from my “second home” Las Vegas right now is the heat. Las Vegas is under an excessive heat warning and that is expected to last all weekend, and the temperature is meant to be 111 degrees Fahrenheit!!!
I’ve been watching the local Vegas TV news online and the excessive heat is all these anchor people will talk about. As someone whose entire Las Vegas experience is with their winter, I find it hard to imagine conditions like that there. You’d be risking heatstroke just walking on the ramp from New York New York to the MGM Grand!!
As for the Rio, home of the WSOP, I wonder how the air conditioning is holding up. It can’t be too pleasant for anyone going in or out of there. 111 degrees Fahrenheit is absolutely ridiculous, folks.
Word came this week that the famed Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is closing at noon May 4. The property had already been sold to the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority and the hotel will be demolished to make way for convention centre space, with the implosion expected to happen sometime around August.
The Riviera has been around for a long time, 60 years, and was one of the hotels featured in the Ocean’s 11 movie back in 1960. It was also prominently featured in the Austin Powers movie back in 1997.
For fans of the “Rat Pack” and “old Las Vegas,” it is a sad time, but look on the bright side — it means we are in store for yet another spectacular razzle-dazzle Las Vegas implosion, complete with fireworks.
I say if you are going to get rid of a building, do it the way they do it in Las Vegas — don’t simply take a bulldozer to it, as seems to be the custom around our area.
The rumors are over. Fight fans almost broke Twitter today upon news this afternoon that the Floyd Mayweather Jr.- Manny Pacquiao fight for the Pound-for-Pound world title is confirmed for May 2 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Fans are just beside themselves with disbelief that the fight is indeed on after all these years of haggling and frustration and stalling. This fight probably should have happened five years ago.
Believe me, now that it is on, the excitement and hype will be through the roof.
On the radio today, sports guys were calling this the “Last Great Superfight”, and who knows, maybe it is. I mean heck, when was the last time there was a fight of this magnitude? Back when Mike Tyson was biting Evander Holyfield’s ear off, that’s when.
This is going to invoke feelings of nostalgia, harkening back to the glory days of boxing when Muhammad Ali was taking on guys of the calibre of George Foreman and Joe Frazier, or when guys like Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler were fighting. The only two guys who can pull off a Superfight at that sort of level again are these two guys Pacquiao and Mayweather.
And who knows — maybe this isn’t the Last Great Superfight. Given the drug problems the UFC is struggling to get a handle on, maybe this is boxing’s one big chance to get off the canvas and make a long-awaited comeback.
I was actually planning to go somewhere else for a change, since I have been to Las Vegas four times and don’t really need to see the United States of America yet again, especially after my trip last summer to North Dakota.
I had thought about Mexico, and also thought seriously about Cuba. But then I got scared and worried I would get bored in Cuba, and although Mexico interested me prices were an issue — especially to Cancun, the place I was really interested in.
Simply put, I got an incredible deal for Vegas, with direct flights back and forth and the whole thing. More than that, I was also getting too many reminders about how much I liked the place.
First, there was all this NHL hockey talk about Las Vegas. Then there was UFC 182 at the MGM Grand, and seeing the shots of Vegas on TSN made me miss the place. Then I went and tuned in these poker shows on TV, which made me miss Vegas even more.
Finally, there was news of Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday, who of course performed in Vegas. Well, that did it. I went and booked the flight, and so that trip will happen in the near future.
It will only be for a few days, but hopefully it will allow me the downtime I desperately need. I really am in need of a respite from this place, and from winter. Life in Saskatchewan is boring, but then it always is at this time of year.
I thought I would try to end the blog year on a more upbeat note than my bitter football rant.
There is no escaping the cold weather anywhere in North America, it seems, not even in the desert sun belt. Even normally warm places like southern California and the Las Vegas area are seeing cold and the white stuff from a winter storm. Well, I am very glad I didn’t book any “winter getaway” to these places for right now, otherwise I would be cursing what surely would be a waste of my money.
I actually was down in Las Vegas a couple of years ago during one of their rare cold snaps. The temperature dipped to the freezing mark and the weather people on TV were totally freaking out about it. Meanwhile, as someone used to winter temperatures about 30 degrees lower than that, I was just laughing at them. Fortunately, the cold only lasted one day and it never snowed at all, so it was still better weather than what we usually experience here in frozen Canada.
I hope Las Vegas and southern Nevada enjoys the cold and any snow it gets tonight and tomorrow. Besides, it will be good preparation for the city’s future membership in the National Hockey League.
Have a happy and snowy New Year, folks.
Prospective investors looking into putting a team into a new arena there have today met the NHL regarding their intentions to launch a season ticket drive to test the market for a team. Nothing’s guaranteed, but that’s what they plan to do.
The rumors have been rampant about NHL and also Major League Soccer interest in the Vegas market. Talk to Canadians, though, and it’s the usual arrogant attitude about how the USA “Sun Belt” doesn’t support hockey and how Canada ought to get more teams instead. They see Las Vegas as being another Florida or Phoenix, places they think are NHL disaster areas.
What these “fans” and “experts” don’t see is the possibility that the Vegas market could become another LA or Anaheim or San Jose or Colorado — not traditional hockey areas but ones that ended up working given the right circumstances. Having been there, southern Nevada strikes me as having a lot more in common with California than with the rest of the Sun Belt. And California’s NHL franchises have all done just fine.
I see Vegas as one of those possible “so crazy it might work” situations. For one thing, it’s not like it is so blazing hot there in the winter. As I have found out, it can really cool down at night in December and January (unlike, say, LA). Also, Vegas does have a reasonably consistent hockey history at the minor league level so that’s a fan base they can tap. Plus, hosting the NHL Awards and exhibition games has helped with fan interest. The other thing is that Vegas is probably better off with a team that plays indoors in the winter anyway, because any major league baseball, football or soccer franchise would have to deal with sweltering heat in July and August in the desert that would make playing and spectator conditions unbearable. (The CFL’s Las Vegas Posse learned that lesson the hard way during their one and only season in business at Sam Boyd Stadium.)
I think there is tremendous value to the NHL in being the first major league to set up in Vegas. This isn’t like Phoenix or Miami where there are three other major league teams well-established and where the NFL dominates the market. Being the only major league sport in town would be a huge competitive advantage. All they’d really have as competitors are UNLV, NASCAR and the fights. But the fights cost an arm and a leg to attend anyway and NASCAR is only one weekend a year, so it’s really just UNLV.
Having said all that, they do need to ice a competitive team there. They don’t need to win the Stanley Cup every year, but they do need to avoid long-term losing like in Phoenix or Florida, or better yet, Edmonton (!). Fans in Vegas would never put up with the kind of nonsense Oilers fans, or for that matter, Leafs(!) fans put up with year in and year out. I don’t get it! Canadians seem almost masochistic when it comes to their slavish devotion to the NHL. These fans really ought to put their foot down occasionally and demand better, like other fans do throughout North America.
Anyway, those are the reasons why I think the NHL would work in Las Vegas. Now, if you asked me which league would be the best fit for Las Vegas, I’d have a different answer: the NBA. The place has always struck me as more basketball-oriented. But apparently it was a fiasco back when Las Vegas hosted the NBA All-Star Game and folks there don’t seem to be very far along towards actually getting a franchise. Seattle’s farther ahead.
There was talk about getting major league baseball a while ago, but the size of the market is an issue and playing conditions in the summer would be absolutely too hot. As for the NFL, they absolutely hate Las Vegas and want nothing to do with the gambling element there.
Major League Soccer could work, though, notwithstanding the heat issues in July and August. Soccer is on the rise in America and Vegas has talked about building a stadium and has approached the league about getting an expansion team. Soccer strikes me as the kind of international sport that might do well in a world-class city like Las Vegas, and there is no question it is the right size of market for an MLS team. Plus, whenever I was in the sports books in the casinos there, there were always people watching soccer games and really into it, so I think it could work.
It would not surprise me if MLS and the NHL both end up in Las Vegas when all is said and done. The only question is who gets there first.
I haven’t done a Bad News Roundup for a while, but how else can you describe this recent run of news other than bad? And sad.
I am talking, of course, about the shootings in Moncton last Wednesday in which three RCMP officers were killed. The manhunt for the gunman last week in Moncton was shades of what we saw last year in Boston when the Boston Bomber was on the loose.
Anyway, the funeral for the officers is tomorrow, and there are condolence books set up and remembrances going on all over Canada.
And that is not the only bad news. We saw more death on Sunday in Las Vegas, as crazed extremists killed two officers who were eating lunch at a pizza place. That killing was followed by more mayhem at the nearby Walmart.
In all, five people dead, including the suspects. Wow, not even Miss Nevada’s victory in the Miss USA pageant can possibly lift the gloom over that city today.
Frankly, what happened in Las Vegas hits a little closer to home for me given the amount of times I’ve been to that city. Usually the place is pretty safe, but this incident really has me worried. I mean, this is Walmart we are talking about, and there are Walmarts everywhere.
Honestly, what is the world coming to, with all these killings? Something’s got to be done to address the issue of guns — again.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other bad news of the weekend, this time from New Jersey, where a bad accident involving a truck landed comedian Tracy Morgan in critical condition, a collision that killed fellow comic Jimmy Mack.
That will have to be it for now.
The latest boxing superfight is happening tonight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for the super light middleweight championship. Mayweather holds the WBA Super Light Middleweight title while Alvarez holds the WBA and WBC Light Middleweight crowns.
SB Nation has the coverage live here, as does CBS Sports and ESPN. Unfortunately, this is about the only way I will be able to follow the fight tonight, as I am too big a cheapskate to pay for the pay-per-view.
Besides, I’ll be watching the Saskatchewan-Toronto CFL game on TV anyway. Costs less money.
UPDATE: It’s a MAJORITY DECISION for Mayweather — one obviously crazy judge scored it a draw which got the fight fans upset again. She’s also the same judge who got it wrong in the fight where Bradley upset Pacquiao! That judge is the only person in the whole wide world who thought the Mayweather-Canelo fight was even close.
You would have thought we would have been long done with this guy already, but O.J. Simpson is back in court arguing for a new trial today in Las Vegas. His appeal is on the grounds that his previous defence lawyer completely botched the job during the first trial for armed robbery.
You can catch the hearing here.
Yes, I know, everyone is excited over the prospect of yet another sensational O.J. trial again, but frankly we need another new O.J. trial like we need a new migrane headache.
(Although I guess Nancy Grace will need something to do after the Jodi Arias case is finally over and done with. HLN could use some new ratings.)
Actually, the only reason I am posting this is to test out the YouTube videos and see how they work on the new website. To be totally honest with you, the WSOP isn’t really up to much yet; they just had their casino workers’ tournament and the Main Event is still a long, long way off.
Here’s an update on what is going on courtesy of the folks at PokerNews. And we will have more news from the WSOP as it develops.