Category Archives: sports

Mystery Surrounds Death of Pro Golfer Erica Blasberg in Las Vegas Suburb

Pro golfer Erica Blasberg, according to most accounts, had much going for her in life and was well liked by her golfing peers, friends and family. 

Blasberg played her only L.P.G.A. Tour event this year just two weeks ago in Mexico and tied for 44th place. 

Blasberg found great golfing success in college, winning six times in two years at the University of Arizona and then turned pro and played on the Curtis Cup team in 2004. 

One of the most photogenic women’s golfers in the country, she also inked an endorsement deal with Puma. In addition, Erica competed favorably in the L.P.G.A. Championship, U.S. Women’s Open, Women’s British Open, and Kraft Nabisco Championship. 

But last Sunday something turned horribly – and deathly -wrong.  

Henderson, Nevada police spokesman Keith Paul would only say they are continuing to investigating the 25-year-old American’s sudden and untimely death on Sunday, adding it was not immediately clear whether foul play was involved.  

The virtual freeze of information from the Henderson Police Department about her death has fueled rampant speculation.  They only say that it was not a suicide. 

TMZ, citing Erica’s father, also proclaimed that it was not a suicide. 

HLN host Nancy Grace took it a step further: “Found dead, possibly smothered to death in the bedroom of her desert home,” Grace said on her recent show. 

Erica had withdrawn in recent months, not updating her website, Facebook or Twitter accounts. 

Paul said police responded to a 911 call and were dispatched to Blasberg’s suburban three-bedroom house in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, around 3 p.m. last Sunday. Paul declined to say who made the call, saying it was part of the investigation.  

But, since then, knowledgeable sources have came forward saying the call was made by a male golfer, yet unnamed, who was inside her home at the time. 

Blasberg, whose bags were packed and waiting to go on her next L.P.G.A. tournament in Alabama this week, according to her agent, Chase Callahan, also reportedly text messaged her caddie hours before her death, saying she would not be at the tournament.  

The caddie, Missy Pederson, recently told the New York Times that Blasberg said she wasn’t going to play at this week’s Bell Micro L.P.G.A. Classic in Mobile, Alabama. 

Because the message was sent in the middle of the night, Pederson said she was worried and texted back a question about whether Blasberg was all right–  and the 25-year-old golfer never replied. 

Pederson normally caddies for Irene Cho. Cho told the Times she and Blasberg had made plans to have dinner Sunday night in Mobile, the night before Blasberg faced a qualifying round. 

Cho said Blasberg was unhappy with her golf game lately. 

“She was kind of down on herself,” Cho said. “She was upset how she played last year. I told her she has so much talent and so much beauty and so many people who love her. I didn’t want her to lose sight of all that.” 

Her dad, Mel Blasberg, says Las Vegas had become a “bad influence” and a “distraction,” and she was considering moving back home to California.  Despite this, he seems to believe it wasn’t suicide saying Erica was upbeat during practice at Southern Highlands Country Club in Henderson just days before she was found dead. 

“I never saw her more positive,” says Blasberg.  “This was a very motivated person to get to Alabama this week.” 

Police will not say how Blasberg died and the Clark County coroner only said the autopsy results were inconclusive and that determining the cause of death through blood and tissue tests could take 4-6 weeks. 

L.P.G.A. spokesman David Higdon called Blasberg’s death a “tough hit” for women’s golf. “She was a very popular player and well-liked and we’re going to miss her,” Higdon said, adding, “This is a very close-knit group of players and tour and we’re saddened by what happened.”

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. Vs. Shane Mosely Las Vegas Slugfest

Floyd Mayweather Jr. , on left, is undefeated, a six-time world champion and perhaps the biggest draw in boxing. 

Shane Mosley is a great champion who’s past his prime and probably couldn’t carry a pay-per-view card by himself. 

However, it’s Mayweather who has the most to prove from Saturday night’s welterweight bout in Las Vegas (HBO Pay-Per-View). He’s arguably the most-skilled boxer in the world. 

Instead of that distinction drawing him praise, Mayweather is reviled for his defense-first style, as well as his big mouth. 

He prides himself on being the greatest ever (in large part to his 40-0 record) and at the same time he’s in a slugfest to be considered the best boxer today. 

Manny Pacquiao ostensibly holds that crown as much for his recent accomplishments as his penchant to be a warrior in the ring. Courage is what separates Mayweather and Pacquiao in many people’s perceptions — with Pacquiao being a gusty fighter while Mayweather hits and runs. 

Only time will tell who will emerge victorious.

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Las Vegas Golf Courses Thirst for Players– Offer FREE BEER!

There’s nothing better when you’re in Las Vegas and playing golf on a sweltering summer day on a terrific golf course and popping open a cold, free beer. That’s right….free beer. That’s the latest attraction when you tee it up at OB Sports’ Angel Park Golf Club or The Legacy Golf Club in Las Vegas. 

It’s easy. Just bring in your group of 24 players or more to either Angel Park course—the Mountain or the Palm— or The Legacy between June 11 and Sept. 3 and the beer is on the house.  The cost is as low as $55 per player and includes green fee, cart, practice balls, tournament coordination and—of course—the beer. Click here for details or to sign up. 

The thirst-quenching deal runs Monday through Thursday (Friday, Saturday and Sunday play is available at special pricing) and could be just the ticket for your group or employee outing, charity event or a client outing. 

“We’re putting a big push on for this summer to give our golfers added value,” said David Bogue, General Manager at Angel Park. “We’ll be working with our beer vendors and our partners to come up with specials and to make sure we’re giving the players not only a great place to play golf, but also a great value. It will be anywhere from a couple of beers for each player in a group of 24 to maybe a keg for groups of 40. We just want to make sure the players know we’re here to take care of them.”

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Decrepit Boxers Holyfield & Botha Prance in Las Vegas Ring Tonight

The “reveal” update:  Last night the 47-year-old Holyfield (43-10-2, 28 KOs) knocked out 41-year-old Frans Botha with 2:05 left in the eighth round Saturday night. Holyfield (43-10-2) knocked the defending champion down 31 seconds earlier with a right to the old guy’s chin.

—————

Some professional boxers just refuse to give up- or, perhaps, they can’t afford to.  

American heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield, left in photo, 47, squares off tonight with almost equally aged foe Francois “White Buffalo” Botha, 41, of South Africa at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.  At stake is the WBF heavyweight championship belt- and best, if you want to watch the fight, to pull out the No-Doz.

Holyfield, the former four-time heavyweight champion, apparently, wants to who wants to prove he stills has the skills to be a world champion, even though he last held a belt nearly 10 years ago and has lost two fights in a row. 

Holyfield has a professional boxing record of 47 wins with four losses, two draws and 27 KOs. 

Botha (47-4-3, 28 KOs), has had a relatively distinguished career as a heavyweight boxer with top contenders, but has fought several world heavyweight champions including Mike Tyson, Shannon Briggs, Axel Schulz, Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. 

Even so, Botha is named the current World Boxing Foundation World Heavyweight Champion. (Although he won the International Boxing Federation World Heavyweight title in the ring the fight was declared a no contest and he was never officially recognized as champion.) 

Probably feeling that long-term boxing is not good for the brain cells, Botha had some smarts and turned entrepreneur for a short time, corning the market on some magical champagne glasses. All you had to do was twist the stem and, voila!, the fluted glass supposedly lit up like Grand Central Station at rush hour. 

Promoters are literally begging the fight sales light up.  By Friday afternoon, only 2,000 tickets had been sold, leaving promoter Crown Boxing, which is paying Holyfield $150,000 plus a pay-per-view percentage, to hope for a large walk-up crowd. Even $25 lower-bowl seats are going unsold. 

Holyfield currently has the odds of minus-360, Botha plus-280

If you’re into comedy and want to save gas money, turn on the fight at 8 p.m. (PT) on pay per view (Cable 502, DirecTV, Dish Network) and shell out $29.95.

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Tiger Woods Adds Another Porn Star; Mistress Moves to Las Vegas

With this week marking Tiger Woods return to professional golf, more high-profile names with Las Vegas nightclub connections have surfaced in his ongoing infidelity scandal. 

Los Angeles nightlife impresario and Peter Morton’s right hand man supplying celebrities to the now defunct Body English nightclub at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel, Brent Bolthouse is mentioned in the May issue of Vanity Fair, which features “The Temptation of Tiger Woods,” one of the most comprehensive accounts to date on the golf star’s double life. 

Porn star Holly Sampson, right, told Vanity Fair that Bolthouse got her involved in a May 2009 bachelor party Woods was throwing for an associate. 

Meanwhile, Rachel Uchitel, the former Las Vegas Tao VIP host who has been referred to as Tiger’s Mistress No. 1, recently told FoxNews.com that she has moved to Las Vegas to be with her dogs and family, adding she gets less media scrutiny in Las Vegas than she did while living in New York City.

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Bernard Hopkins Expected to Trounce Roy Jones Jr. in Las Vegas on Saturday

Bernard Hopkins, 45, is a minus-500 betting favorite at MGM Mirage’s sports books going into Saturday’s fight with Roy Jones Jr., 41, who is going in at plus-350 odds at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. 

It’s a glorious boxing rematch 17 years in the making.  For Jones, 54-6, losing five of his past 10 fights dating to 2004, it’s more about proving to people he’s not washed up in the fight game.  

Jones beat Hopkins (50-5-1, 32 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 1993 middleweight bout. 

But for Hopkins, apparently, it’s just another day at work.  After the fight he plans to be sitting in the Mandalay Bay audience with his 10-year-old daughter to watch the “Lion King.” 

Today’s weigh-in is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Mandalay Bay and is open to the public. 

Tickets for the fight are priced from $100 to $750.

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Tiger Woods Ex-Mistress, Porn Star Ready to Really Spill the Beans?

Tiger’s return to golf  in the Masters Tournament on April 8 will not similarly mark his return to relationship graces.  

Joslyn James, the jilted ex-mistress to Woods and ex-porn star/model, has been of late releasing a torrent of nasty Tiger Woods text messages dating from last October.    Having a three-year affair with Woods, she has told ESPN affiliate KWWN 1100 last Friday that she even put her porn career on hold for the golf star!

“He wanted me to quit porn … and I stopped.” James said.  She reportedly met him at a Las Vegas nightclub and had sex with him that night.  She has refused to identify the club. 

But she has confirmed she would be soon releasing a torrent of even racier sexting messages. 

And Tiger’s troubles don’t end there.   Far from it.

Tiger Woods’ wife, the Swedish beauty Elin Nordegren is apparently on the warpath, again, and this time she may have Tiger’s head. She is reportedly consulting again with divorce lawyers over his decision to return to golf. 

Elin, 30, is said to be “furious” at Tiger’s comeback, because he is spending up to 16 hours a day practicing and not working on rebuilding their relationship, according to the UK’s Daily Mirror.

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Off-Road Desert Racing comes to the Las Vegas Valley

Hundreds of racers are now busy preparing and testing their off-road race vehicles for the return of the 2010 SNORE/General Tire Mint 400, set to take place just 25 minutes North of Las Vegas on March 27, starting at 7 a.m.  

The Mint 400 is one of the top racing titles to win in off-road racing. 

The race course this year features the infamous Rock Garden, a treacherous section of course run over shale rock beds and small boulders, with ditches and “gotcha’s” strewn throughout. The last time the course ran through the Rock Garden was 23 years ago. 

The SNORE/General Tire Mint 400 will be at the Moapa Indian reservation at the Moapa Travel Plaza, Exit 75 (Valley of Fire Rd.) off of Interstate 15. Three special spectator areas have been set-up alongside the course in high-speed, action-packed areas for fans to view the race. The Moapa tribe will have shuttles running to these areas. There will be numerous food, beer and merchandise vendors set up at the Moapa Travel Plaza.
 
Over 250 entries are expected to enter the SNORE/General Tire Mint 400. 

 The race festivities start Wednesday, March 24 at 5 p.m. with a kick-off party at Hussong’s Cantina inside Mandalay Bay. Thursday March 25th , fans, racers and the Media are invited to be a part of the FanFest Meet & Greet on Fremont Street East (between Las Vegas Blvd and 8th St.) from 6 to 8 p.m. to meet the drivers, get their autographs, take pictures, and pick up some swag from the teams. At 8:30 p.m. on Thurs., March 25, General Tire will crown the 2010 Mint 400 Queen on the 1st Street Stage, located on Fremont Street and 1st Street, under the Fremont Street Experience. Friday, March 26 starting at 9 am and lasting throughout the day until 5:30 p.m., every race car entered in the race will parade down Fremont Street for Technical and Contingency inspection. The parade of race vehicles starts on 1st Street & Fremont Street, heads East under the Fremont Street Experience, crosses Las Vegas Blvd., and ends at 8th Street and Fremont. Saturday, March 27 at 7  a.m., race officials will drop the green flag once again for the start of the historic 25th Running of the 2010 SNORE General Tire Mint 400 off-road race. 

The historic race was started by Norm Johnson, former public relations director for the Del Webb Hotel, and was resurrected by the SNORE (Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts) racing organization just three years ago. 

The 2010 SNORE/General Tire Mint 400 will be televised on the Versus network and set to air May 5, 2010.

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Aging Mike “Ear-Biter” Tyson Throwing Gut Back into Ring? Not yet. He’s PIGEON RACING!

Recent sightings of a slimmed-down Mike Tyson added fuel to reports of a rumored rematch between Tyson and Evander Holyfield. 

Tyson, who hasn’t fought in five years and was known for his paunchy gut as of late, is clearly getting back in shape, losing 50 pounds, according to those who have spotted him taking regular long walks near his Anthem home in Henderson, Nevada. 

When Tyson, now 43, lost to Kevin McBride in 2005, it was his third defeat in four bouts over three years. 

His arch nemesis, Evander Holyfield, 47, has been cleared for a tentative April 17 fight in Las Vegas against Frans Botha.

Promoter Don King, likely wanting to keep his trump card, is trying to squash news that a Tyson-Holyfield fight reunion is not true.

But while biding his time for this to occur, we’ve learned that the eccentric one will soon star in an Animal Planet series that will feature — are you sitting down? — pigeon racing.

The show, titled “Taking on Tyson”, will showcase amateur pigeon racer Tyson against “serious competitors.”   

We’ve all known that Tyson has  bats aplenty in his belfry, but many probably are not aware that Tyson has apparently also raised pigeons all his life — squab anyone? — but is just now getting into the glamorous world of racing them.  (Hopefully, he won’t toss them around in their cages.) 

The show is on track to be taped this spring in New York City and will air early next year.

“Tyson’s passion for his pigeons takes my breath away,” says Animal Planet Media President Marjorie Kaplan.

If you’d like to bone up on your knowledge of this parlor sport, Las Vegas Backstage Access suggests visiting the American Racing Pigeon Union Web site, where you will find all you need to know- and probably lots you wish you never read.

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First Tiger Woods’ Mistress Rachel Uchitel Moves to Las Vegas to Restart Career

Rachel Uchitel, the VIP hostess with the mostest, whose alleged affair with golfing icon Tiger Woods was the flashpoint of the recent epic scandal, has apparently moved to Las Vegas to restart her career. 

Uchitel has moved into a Turnberry Place tower in Las Vegas where she purchased a ground-floor unit for $820,000 in 2006. 

Recent reports have Uchitel, who worked the velvet ropes for clubs in Las Vegas, New York and Southhampton, N.Y., getting involved now in the entertainment television field. She reportedly has been offered a job as a nightlife reporter with “Extra,” the nationally syndicated entertainment television show. 

Sources at Turnberry Place say she has leased her 1,556-square-foot luxury condo and is renting a nearby unit. Uchitel recently pulled her ground-floor unit at Turnberry Place off the market. Vegas Confidential reported in December that she had listed the property at $1.35 million. 

Uchitel formerly worked at Tao nightclub in Las Vegas but had a falling out well before she was linked to Woods. 

Uchitel was the first of about 20 or so mistresses to surface in the Woods scandal that broke during Thanksgiving weekend.

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Go Extreme in Las Vegas!

It’s once again time for the Extreme Thing in Las Vegas. 

Tickets are on sale for the Clark County Parks and Recreation Departments 15th annual Extreme Thing Sports and Music Festival, Saturday March 27 at Desert Breeze Park in Las Vegas.  

This is the first year the event will have three stages:  The Verizon Wireless Stage will feature Sum 41; the AP (Alternative Press) Stage will showcase Call the Cops and I Fight Dragons in addition to Story of the Year and The Cab; and the XPOZ Local Band Stage will feature loca Las Vegas acts.  Which local acts is still a question as Las Vegas bands are competing in the XPOZ Battle of the Fans.  For more information on Battle of The Fans checkout www.smokefreescene.com 

In addition to great music, Ricardo Laguna will once again present his pro-BMX dirt jump competition.  Professional wrestler Adrenaline Unleashed brings professional wrestling to the outdoors. And the roller derby tournament and skate competition is sure to be a fine flying feature. 

Sponsors of the 2010 event include Las Vegas City Life, Red Bull and X107.5FM.  

Tickets can be purchased for $17 general admission or #45 for the combo package at www.extremething.com  by phone at 702-454-4000 and at participating Smith’s Grocery stores.  Tickets will be $20 on the day of the event.

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Jimmie Johnson Wins NASCAR Shelby American in Las Vegas

Four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving the No. 48 Lowes car, cheered on by an almost sell out crowd, won his second-straight race Sunday, as he took the checker flag in the 2010 Shelby American from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com gave Johnson 9/2 odds to win the Shelby American, meaning a bet of $100 on Johnson paid out $450. 

A late pass of teammate Jeff Gordon led to Johnson’s victory, as he led just 18 laps in the race while Gordon led 219. 

Kevin Harvick finished second as he also slipped past Gordon late while Gordon finished third, Mark Martin took fourth and Matt Kenseth was fifth. 

Kyle Busch, the pole sitter, came in 15th place and led one lap. 

Johnson moves up to fifth in the standings while Harvick maintains his spot in first place, 47 points ahead of Clint Bowyer.

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NASCAR in Las Vegas Will Exceed Super Bowl Fan Draw

The many NASCAR driver meet-and-greet events and deafening varooms befitting plenty of exciting dirt track racing action all started yesterday in Las Vegas.  By the time the marquee Sprint Cup Shelby American on Sunday is over, an estimated 300,000 people will have experienced the roar of racing in their ears and smell of gasoline enticing their nostrils.   That’s four times the attendance at the Super Bowl, according to Chris Powell, president of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

For the Sprint Cup race alone – the biggest event of the weekend – in 2009 about 140,000 spectators saw the race.  That’s down from about 152,000 in 2008 and the record attendance of 156,000 in 2007. 

Regardless of the ending attendance figure this year, the significant question is if those people can translate into record spending.  Most Las Vegans are hoping and praying it does, giving their languishing economy a much needed economic bump. 

Out-of-towners hold the key trump card to this weekend’s economic prosperity, comprising 70 percent of the race crowd invading Las Vegas. 

Attempting to lure more tourists to the track than prior years, race ticket prices at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway have been greatly reduced this year. With more people attending, hopefully, that will translate into more ancilliary spending on goods and services. 

Las Vegas hotels will undoubtedly be the major economic beneficiaries. The recessionary price levels of hotel rooms that have plagued Las Vegas for the past year have virtually disappeared, albeit temporarily. The Riviera, mirroring what most Las Vegas hotels are doing, is jacking their weekend’s room rates to a whopping $224 per night.  But next weekend the Riviera will zoom back down to their customary $79 level. 

Budget hotel are also raising their rates, as well the higher priced Strip hotels, such as Harrah’s that is sold out all weekend, and Wynn Las Vegas and the Hard Rock Hotel, both sold out on Saturday. 

VEGAS.com reports their Web site’s hotel room sales are up 30 percent. 

Rolling up the total revenue picture, excluding gambling revenue, the associated revenues from last year’s NASCAR weekend raked in $107 million, according to the Las Vegas convention and Visitors Authority. 

But that doesn’t come close to 2008 revenue, when the haul was $134 million. Most don’t think this year will equal that level. However, should the heavy rain that is anticipated to blanket Las Vegas intermittently on Saturday postpone Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 race and cause the race to move to Monday, that might be just the silver lining needed to help close the revenue gap, keeping race fans in Las Vegas and extra day or two, perhaps aided in no small part by the dangling carrot of being able to see heartthrob racer Danica Patrick strut her stuff. 

Will this year’s racing events add up to yielding the top revenue producing weekend in Las Vegas?

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Danica Patrick, NASCAR, Sprint Cars & Food Mix in Glorious Las Vegas Weekend

Yes, there really is NASCAR racing in Las Vegas next weekend, Feb. 26-28.  (Did you really think it was just an outing to ogle Danica Patrick?) 

Dale Earnhardt Jr., though, isn’t getting overly excited about his late charge to a surprise second-place finish at Daytona.  After the season-opening Daytona 500, the restrictor plates are now off during the 1½-mile Las Vegas oval track races and the focus is back on the the kind of tracks that dominate the 36-race championship season.  

It can be anyone’s race. 

Earnhardt said he feels good about his team and crew chief Lance McGrew, who is starting his first full season after replacing Tony Eury Jr. last May and having the interim tag removed by Hendrick in late October. That gave them a whole off-season together to get ready for 2010. 

“We built a lot of new cars. We did a lot of hard work, Lance especially, during the off-season to put us in a position to bring better cars to this race and to Vegas and so forth,” Earnhardt said. “Just give me a good car and I can run real good.” 

“Everybody in the garage kind of feels like this is the start of the regular season. Daytona is so different than every other kind of racing that we do and of course it’s the Daytona 500,” said Jimmie Johnson, the four-time Sprint Cup champion and California native who has won four times at his home track. 

“Everybody is really interested and anxious to understand where we are with the cars,” says Johnson. 

The added good news is that even before the entire NASCAR contigent fully descends on Las Vegas next weekend, racing fans will get two opportunities to add a little dirt to their diet as the USAC Sprint and Midget Series and the World of Outlaws Sprint Series come to town.

The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the United States Auto Club (USAC) on Thursday, February 25 and the World of Outlaws the next night for three thrilling A-mains between the two groups of talented drivers. 

To keep up your energy while walking endlessly around the track, don’t forget to first eat your fill before heading to the track, stopping by the NASCAR Café inside the Sahara.

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Las Vegas NASCAR Complete Schedule

Everywhere you look this week it’s NASCAR all over Las Vegas. Here’s the definitive NASCAR meet and greet schedule: 

First, click here for the complete schedule for what’s happening at NASCAR only at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Next, here are the sequential driver events occuring BEFORE the Las Vegas NASCAR events:

Thurs., Feb. 25  

Noon – Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Michael Waltrip, crew chief Pat Tryson at Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. Spectator admission is free; $225 to play. 

2-4 p.m. – Raybestos Rookie drivers Terry Cook and Kevin Conway (and others TBA) from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will participate in a cooking competition at the ESPN Zone in the New York New York Hotel & Casino. 

4-6 p.m. – Tony Stewart at Office Depot, 1435 W. Craig Road 

4 p.m. – Brad Keselowski at Discount Tire, 6565 E. Lake Mead Blvd. 

4 p.m. – Dale Earnhardt Foundation Poker Tournament, Stratosphere Hotel & Casino: Kerry Earnhardt, Kenny Wallace, Kirk Shelmerdine, Casey Mears, Matt Crafton, Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Eric McClure, Todd Bodine, Mike Bliss, Scott Lagasse Jr, Andy Ponstein, Danny Efland and car owner Tommy Baldwin. Spectator tickets are $20. 

5 p.m. – Sam’s Town Live! inside Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall – 12th annual AutoTrader.com NASCAR Driver Auction. Drivers scheduled to appear include: Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte, David Ragan and Kyle Petty. Event also includes silent auction, appearance by Home Improvement TV star Mickey Jones and music by Skid Rodeo. Admission is $20. 

5:30 p.m. – Kasey Kahne at PT’s Pub, Interstate 215 at Decatur Blvd.   

6 p.m. – Kurt Busch at Pole Position Raceway, 4175 S. Arville 

6:30-8:30 p.m. – Kyle Busch at M&M’s World on Las Vegas Blvd. 

6:30-7:30 p.m. – David Reutimann at NASCAR Café at Sahara Hotel & Casino 

8-9 p.m. – Trevor Bayne at NASCAR Café at Sahara Hotel & Casino 

FRIDAY, FEB. 26  

7-9 p.m. – Bobby Labonte, Terry Cook at the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino 

7-7:30 p.m. – Trevor Bayne at The Pub at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino 

7:30-8 p.m. – Michael McDowell at The Pub at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino 

8:15-9:15 p.m. – Kurt Busch at Indigo Lounge in Bally’s Hotel & Casino 

Show cars only:

Friday, Feb. 26
10 a.m.-5 p.m. – Joey Logano’s No. 20 at Home Depot at Lamb Blvd. at E. Charleston 

SAT., FEB. 27  

5 p.m. – Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman at Lagasse’s Stadium in the Venetian Hotel & Casino. Stewart will be honored as part of The Venetian and The Palazzo’s Legends of the Sport series. An $89 package is available for purchase which includes premium seating in Lagasse’s Stadium for the Q&A session, meet-and-greet with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, and autographed photo by both drivers. 

5:30-6 p.m. – Marcos Ambrose at The Pub at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino 

Race Tickets 

Tickets for the Feb. 28 Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Feb. 27 Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event and the fabulous Neon Garage fan experience may be purchased by calling the LVMS ticket office at (702) 644-4444 or online at www.LVMS.com. Follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.

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Big League Baseball Sort of Comes to Las Vegas

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese and Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown all were on hand recently to praise the new baseball sports park as a world-class attraction for local and visiting ballplayers and families. 

“Big League Dreams (BLD) is a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that raises the bar for baseball and softball in the city of Las Vegas,” Goodman said. “Las Vegas is known for having the best entertainment, hotels, restaurants and shopping, and now we also have the best ball fields.”

 BLD owners and representatives included former Los Angeles Dodgers star Bill Russell, a BLD consultant. 

“This is our 10th Big League Dreams Sports Park, and it’s a great fit for Las Vegas,” Russell said. “We know that this park, even more than our others, will attract visitors from all over the country.” 

BLD includes six fields designed for youth baseball and adult softball, two sports-themed restaurants, an indoor field house for soccer and other activities, batting cages, playgrounds and an area for picnics and private parties. 

BLD is operating and maintaining the sports park in a public-private partnership with the city of Las Vegas. The 35-acre Big League Dreams is part of the city’s upgrade of its 68-acre Freedom Park on the city’s east side. BLD has a 30-year maintenance and operations agreement with the city, covering all expenses related to the sports park at no cost to the city, which shares gross revenue from the complex. 

Big League Dreams is at 3151 E. Washington in Las Vegas. Their website is www.BigLeagueDreams.com

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Super Bowl in Las Vegas Brings Reported $1 Million Bet

Adam Meyer, who has the license plates, “Bet on Me,” on his Bentley, has supposedly been approved for a whopping $1 million Super Bowl bet at the M Resort.

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Where are the Super Bowl Parties in Las Vegas? Everywhere!

Why spend thousands of hard earned dollars to go to Miami when you catch all the action literally everywhere in Las Vegas for a comparative mere pittance? 

Apparently, thousand of people are of the same persuasion. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority anticipate 278,000 people to visit Las Vegas this weekend- that’s a whopping 13.5 percent increase from last year’s visitor totals.  The nongaming impact from all those visitors is expected to be up 2.4 percent to $89.7 million. 

So, why don’t you see advertising on Las Vegas’ Super Bowl activities?  It’s simply because of the National Football League’s half-baked and business-choking stance against sports betting, the league has threatened legal action against Las Vegas casinos that use the Super Bowl name in their promotions of parties and events surrounding Sunday’s game. But that hasn’t deterred casinos from promoting “Big Game” activities at their properties or kept Super Bowl bets from becoming a major draw at local sports books. 

Station Casinos, South Point and The Orleans, for instance, will show the game in a ballroom that is open to the public. NFL rules do not allow companies to charge admission to rooms where the game is being shown. 

Las Vegas casinos also can have free but private viewing parties for invited guests and VIPs away from the sports book. 

Station Casinos, which owns 10 Las Vegas casinos, are holding viewing parties for invited guests and are offering $1 hot dogs and $1 Budweisers. 

The Las Vegas Hilton is also having a huge viewing party. 

The Palms will hold its football viewing party for VIPs in its Fantasy Suites, including the Hardwood Suite where guests can relax and shoot hoops during breaks in the game. 

The Hard Rock Hotel, which just opened 824 new hotel rooms and 40,000 square feet of new casino space, is having a public party in Wasted Space and a party for invited guests at The Joint. 

For Boyd Gaming Corp., whose properties include Sam’s Town, The Orleans and Suncoast, this weekend is one of the biggest on its winter calendar. 

“It’s far more than just the sports book,” Boyd spokesman David Strow said. “On Sunday, you’ll be able to see the game pretty much in every nook and cranny of the casino.” 

MGM Mirage is also expecting a big weekend even without a lot of extra hype. The gaming company said it has sold out or is near selling out at its 10 Strip properties even though it is not holding any special game-day parties or promotions, other than offering free T-shirts at Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s with $25 parlay bets. 

Nothing boosts business at Las Vegas sports books like the Super Bowl.  With a record haul predicted for the contest (previous article on Feb. 4, 2010 by Las Vegas Backstage Access), still wagering has never reached the elusive $100 million mark.  It has steadily increased over the years, from around $50 million in 1989 (when the San Francisco 49ers nipped the Cincinnati Bengals) to $71.5 million in 2002 (when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams) to a record $94.5 million bet on Super Bowl XL in 2006, when Pittsburgh beat Seattle.   Maybe this will be the year?

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Shane Mosley to Fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 1 in Las Vegas

Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have finally agreed to square off for a welterweight super fight on HBO Pay-Per-View at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 1. 

The hubbub for the anticipated fight started after Mayweather came out of his 18-month retirement last September. 

Mosley, 38, stepped up his interest after the 32-year-old defeated lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez. 

Later, in a post-fight interview, Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) challenged Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) to his face. 

Mayweather became available to fight three weeks ago when negotiations for a Manny Pacquiao ticket stalled. 

All parties agreed to conditions for a March 13 bout when Mayweather wanted to have a random blood testing done in addition to the agreed random urine testing. 

The last time Mosley fought was against Antonio Margarito last January, winning his title in a ninth-round knockout.

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Super Bowl Betting the Largest Total Ever

Most Super Bowl betting experts predict this year’s Super Bowl to be the biggest in terms of overall traffic and amount of bets placed at the online sportsbooks and in Las Vegas.  

A Las Vegas bookmaker makes the Indianapolis Colts an early four-point favorite to beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 Super Bowl and the bookies (both in Las Vegas and online) pushed the line up to -5 ½.  Sportsbetting.com and a few others have moved the line up to Colts -6. 

Sean Van Patten of Las Vegas Sports Consultants recently told the AP that the Colts’ experience on the NFL’s biggest stage (they won Super Bowl XLI three years ago) helped them take the decided edge. 

The total in this Super Bowl, with a number that has remained steady for the most part, is 56 ½, being the highest total ever posted. 

“In the Super Bowl, most people don’t mind if the defense doesn’t show up as much,” Jay Rood, director of the MGM Mirage’s Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview last week with Bloomberg News Friday. “For the most part they like to see a track meet back and forth. This one could deliver.” 

John Avello, the race and sports book director at the Wynn Las Vegas, said he can envision several scenarios that would keep this year’s game from being a high-scoring contest. 

“For the most part I’d believe that the weather will cooperate, but there’s always the chance it won’t,” said Avello, noting that both clubs played their first two playoff games in domed stadiums. “Second, the Colts’ defense is a lot better than people anticipate and the Saints’ defense showed they can get to the quarterback. This game may not be quite the shootout that’s anticipated.” 

“This is clearly the highest total for a Super Bowl we’ve ever had,” said Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Hilton Race and Sports Book. “People like to bet on offense and it’s shaping up to be an offensive game.” 

Despite the high number, nearly 75 percent of those betting the total were still backing the OVER heading going into the contest.

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Super Bowl Parties Bring Out Cheap Drunks

Expect to see free-flowing Patron and Grey Goose at your upcoming Super Bowl party?   You say, “Whatz Dat?”

This year you’ll be lucky to imbibe on wood grain alcohol at your friends’ party.

Americans’ love affair with top-shelf booze apparently has really cooled last year, as recessionary woes took a dramatic toll on high-price tipples.

Although people drank more alcohol, it turned out to be much cheaper brands, according to a report by an industry group.  They also appeared to be more ‘closet’ drinkers, preferring to guzzle more at home and less in pricier bars and restaurants to save money- and, perhaps, to avoid costly drunk-driving arrests.

Industry growth slowed in 2009, with the amount of liquor sold by suppliers up by only 1.4 percent– the smallest hike since 2001.

And the lowest-priced segment, including brands like Popov vodka, reportedly grew the fastest, with volume rising 5.5 percent.  The most expensive brands – think Grey Goose, tumbled a whopping 5.1 percent.

So, better crank up your dusty still- it’s almost Super Bowl time!

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Sports Illustrated Models Coming to Las Vegas

Gentlemen (and ladies), dust off your zoom lenses because the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models are returning once again to Las Vegas next week. 

Shortly after the cover-girl ceremony is held in New York City next Tuesday, the models will jet off to Las Vegas, where they will participate in numerous activities over two days. 

Their first scheduled stop will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Margaritaville at the Flamingo. From there they go to The Mirage for a poker tournament, followed by an appearance at the Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace. 

Thursday’s schedule includes appearances in The Mirage lobby from noon to 2 p.m., Le Cabaret at Paris Las Vegas from 1-3 p.m. and Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo from 3-5 p.m. 

They’ll make nightclub appearances at Jet at The Mirage on Wednesday (9 p.m.), Vanity at the Hard Rock towers on Thursday (9 p.m.) and Tao (Venetian) at 1 a.m. Friday. 

All three are invite-only events. 

{Last year, Las Vegas Backstage Access covered the event and a video of the event and the gals is posted on Feb 14: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models Prove Life Exists After Football }   We could supply photos for your publication if desired.  Please  provide a reply to this post and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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Super Bowl Brings Football Legend Paul Hornung to Las Vegas

Football legend and Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung will be signing free autographs in the Tropicana Las Vegas’s Celebration Lounge between noon and 2 p.m., prior to the Big Game on Sunday, Feb. 7. 

Hornung is one of only five players to have earned both the Heisman Trophy as well as football’s prestigious Most Valuable Player award. He is known as one of the most versatile players in football, having played halfback, quarterback and placekicker. Nicknamed the Golden Boy during his tenure at the University of Notre Dame, Hornung moved quickly into professional football as a first-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers. He was named All-Pro twice and went on to win four league championships with the Packers including the very first Super Bowl in 1967. He was later inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. 

Following autographs in the Celebration Lounge, Tropicana Las Vegas guests can watch every play of the Saints as they crush the Colts on big screen TV’s throughout the casino as well as enjoy a variety of food and drink specials.

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New Senior Center Opens in Henderson, Nevada

Any large business opening is a big thing in this stifling economy- and especially one of this magnitude.  The formal grand opening for the City of Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30. 

The Senior Facility, which will replace two other older facilities, has been the topic of discussion regarding whether the reported $11.7 million spent on the Heritage Park Senior Facility and the estimated total cost of $26.2 million for the entire Heritage Park complex, was a wise investment during the current economic climate.  

At the time of the July 2008 groundbreaking, the two-year project seemed to be exactly what was necessary to meet the needs of the community.  But as funding for other commitments dried up and the financial domino effect of the mortgage crisis became more apparent, there was little consideration given to putting any kind of hold on the project.  

“Unlike a park, you can’t just leave a half-built building sitting there.” said Kim Becker, spokeswoman for the Parks and Recreation department.  Yet that is exactly what has been done at other local building sites, most notably the bankrupt Fontainebleau sitting just north of the Riviera.  

The Senior Facility, which opened for use on December 16, is a recreational center for adults over 50.  It features a commercial kitchen as well as a demonstration kitchen and the specialty rooms include a dance room, craft room, conference room and media room.  Mindful of the concerns and needs of the community, the Senior Facility also houses a wellness center and health screening rooms and the cafe and lounge area are equipped with the latest in WiFI.  But the centerpiece of this building has to be the fitness room which includes the latest in exercise equipment and the indoor aquatic area. 

“We’re very pleased to be pursuing LEED Gold certification for this building, which truly blends form and function,” said Mary Ellen Donner, director, City of Henderson Parks and Recreation Department. “So many elements are eco-friendly and energy efficient, including a ground source geothermal sustainable energy system, flooring made from recycled products, and insulated skylights and windows to optimize natural lighting. It’s a striking building that will truly enhance the quality of life for Henderson’s 50+ residents.” 

In the end it’s possible that the Henderson Parks and Recreation department will find themselves thanked by many in the Henderson community.  As money has become tighter and tighter, families are turning away from expensive hobbies and weekend entertainments and are spending more time at the park.  The reported 13.5 percent uptick in use at the six Henderson recreational centers during the last half of 2009 is expected to continue or increase, especially as this summer season begins and community pools come more into play.

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Boxing Trainer Roger Mayweather Bound Over for Las Vegas Trial on Battery, Coercion Charges

A Las Vegas judge said today that boxing trainer Roger Mayweather should stand trial on three felony charges, alleging he attacked a female boxer he used to train.

The woman, 26-year-old Melissa St. Vil, testified that the 48-year-ld Mayweather punched and choked her during an Aug. 2 confrontation at an apartment he owned. 

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Pro-Tem James Gubler ruled St. Vil’s testimony was sufficient to bind the case over to state court on coercion, battery-strangulation and battery causing substantial bodily harm charges. 

Mayweather, the uncle of trainer of unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., did not testify at the evidentiary hearing, and his lawyers chose not to call witnesses. 

The judge set arraignment for Jan. 26 in Clark County District Court. Mayweather’s lawyers say he’ll plead not guilty.

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Las Vegas Thrillseekers Salivate over Planned 855 Foot Tall Base Jump

Las Vegas thrillseekers are salivating, waiting for a new out-of-this-world free fall ride at the 1,149-foot Stratosphere. 

The hotel known for outrageous thrill rides, is adding SkyJump Las Vegas, a “controlled free fall” of 855 feet from the top of the tower to a landing platform on the second level. 

Many experts predict that SkyJump, based on a ride in Australia, will become one of the top tourist attractions in North America. 

Jumpers will have a fabulous view of the Las Vegas Strip — if they dare to keep their eyes open. 

SkyJump joins the Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity rides at Stratosphere.

Construction of the $3 million SkyJump ride began this month and the new attraction is expected to open in April. Cost is $100. Tickets for X-Scream and Insanity are $12, while the Big Shot is $13. 

The ride is similar to skydiving and base jumping. After a short safety lesson, riders put on custom “jump suits.” They’ll then be connected to a patented high-speed “descender” machine and led to the edge of a small platform where they leap from the 100-story Stratosphere. Guide wires keep them from slamming into the concrete structure. The entire experience takes about 30 minutes. 

Frank Riolo, chief executive officer of Stratosphere parent company American Casino and Entertainment Properties, said the new thrill ride is part of the company’s commitment to reinvesting in the property at all levels. Recent improvements include new carpets and refurbished hotel rooms and rest rooms. A new bar also opened at the top of the tower.

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Aria’s New Poker Room in Las Vegas

Fans of Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio will be happy to hear there is an equivalent in the Aria poker room in the new CityCenter complex and it has already been put to use.  Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, Davide Benyamine, Tom Dwan, and Patrik Antonius were all spotted recently playing in the secluded VIP lounge. 

While the room is semi-private, ogling railbirds can still get a peek at their favorite high-stakes players through the glass front door.  According to one of the employees at Aria, Phil Ivey is currently in talks to loan his name to the room in the same fashion that Bobby Baldwin did at the Bellagio, so news of big games being played in “Phil’s Room” could be on the horizon. 

A number of poker pros have taken time to check out the new poker room, including Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke and and UB.com sponsored pro Bryan “Badbeatninja” Devonshire.  Both had generally positive remarks about the new room and they took the time to relay their sentiments recently to Poker News Daily. 

When Poker News Daily paid a visit to the new room, the emphasis on service was apparent.  There was a short wait for $1/ $3 No Limit Hold’em, but everyone was being seated in a relatively short amount of time and the use of chip runners helped to speed up the process even further.  Beverage service is currently available and food service is said to be supposedly coming in the near future.

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Harlem Globetrotters Dunk Into Las Vegas

In their 84th consecutive season touring the world, the venerated Harlem Globetrotters bring their basketball hi-jinks as part of the 2010 Magical Memories World Tour to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for one-night-only, February 10 at 7:00 p.m.. 

Also known as the Magicians of Basketball® and the Ambassadors of Goodwill®, the Harlem Globetrotters entertain audiences with a dose of slapstick comedy and a unique mix of trick shots, high-flying dunks and basketball handling wizardry. 

The legendary team has played more than 25,000 games in their nearly 85-year history.  They have played in 120 countries, on six continents and for more than 130 million fans—including everyone from Presidents of the United States to the Pope. For the North American leg of their 2010 Magical Memories World Tour, the team will play nearly 270 games in more than 215 cities in 44 states, five Canadian provinces and in Puerto Rico. 

Tickets are on sale now and are priced at $21.00, $29.00, $36.00, $56.00, $76.00 and $114.00, inclusive of tax and fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Orleans Arena Box Office by calling 702-284-7777 or by visiting www.orleansarena.com.

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Las Vegas Women’s Pro Tackle Football Team Looks for Good Smashers

The Las Vegas Showgirlz, Las Vegas’ only semi-pro female tackle football team, is recruiting for the 2010 season that begins in April. 

Tryouts will be held Sunday, Dec. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Ed Fountain Park near Vegas Drive and Decatur Boulevard. 

The team, which plays its home games at Faith Lutheran High School, competes in the Women’s Football Alliance, a national league comprised of 50 teams from the United States and Mexico.

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Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Brings 27,000 Runners; Caroline Rotich Wins

Last year, only about 13,000 runners took part. This year, organizers say an international field of elite athletes helped round out and expand the registered runners, bringing out 27,000 racers on a brisk and wintry day today in Las Vegas.  

Runner Caroline Rotich led all runners, finishing with a kick and crossing the finish line with a time of 2:29:49 to win the Rock ‘n’ Rock Las Vegas Marathon today, Sunday.  She took home $25,000 for her win. 

The festive marathon started at 6:15 a.m. today on Las Vegas Blvd. north of Russell Rd, near Mandalay Bay parking lot.  And, for the first time ever for the marathon, nearly 7 1/2 miles of the Strip was closed to traffic.   

As the name Rock ‘n’ Roll suggests, there were more than 35 live bands, cheerleaders and themed water stations set up along each line of the Las Vegas Strip course. There were also be hundreds of running Elvi and 85 couples taking part in the Run through Wedding. 

Event organizers expect the Las Vegas economic boost to be around $30 million. There is a strong international presence of athletes who have come from 39 countries and all 50 states.

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Tiger Woods – Las Vegas wants you to weigh in with your opinions…

News is rolling in like a broken water spicket on the reported Tiger Woods scandals since his car accident last week.  It’s all Tiger, all the time.  In the blinding media onslaught, the US Weekly tabloid feature that hits newsstands today alleges Woods had a 31-month affair with Rachel Uchitel, who was once a TAO VIP hostess in Las Vegas, having the voice mail smoking gun panic message from Woods and photos to prove it, and stories about a brief affair Jaimee Grubbs, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress and actress on VH1 Tool Academy, who claims she has over 300 text messages from Woods and also his voicemail which suggest his wife suspected the affair.

Undoubtedly, the iconic Woods will be flailing his nine irons until the unfortunate mess is resolved- if it is ever truly resolved.  Not only will there undoubtedly be microscopic scrutiny of his actions, but security will be beefed up at the events he attends and participates.

Las Vegas Backstage Access requests you to weigh in with your beliefs and comment on our post, below.  We’ll keep your contact details confidential. Do you think his private life and transgressions should be his own, secured from prying eyes and ears?  And, if you don’t like what he did, just don’t watch the golf matches or by his endorsed products?  Or, since he makes booku millions in public endorsements of products, there is a level of public trust and truth at issue here and honesty should be maintained on all personal fronts?

We’d like your opinions.  Thank you.

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“Cowboy Up” in Las Vegas – National Finals Rodeo Buck into Las Vegas

On Dec. 3-12 the Wrangler National Finals rodeo — the sport’s answer to the Super Bowl and World Series — is back with latigo and spurs at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas– with some huge numbers to celebrate. 

This is the silver anniversary of the rodeo’s move to Las Vegas, and it comes with plenty of gold — a rodeo-record purse of $5.75 million. 

The move from Oklahoma City to the Entertainment Capital of the World in 1985 has worked out beyond all expectations for rodeo — and for Las Vegas. Every performance has been sold out for more than 20 years, and telecasts of last year’s 50th anniversary edition of the rodeo drew 15.4 million viewers. 

The non-gaming economic impact of the rodeo to the region last year was $54.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. 

But those numbers are just the by-product of the rodeo’s real business of determining world champions. Eleven months of crisscrossing the country in trucks and planes, going short on sleep and subsisting on fast food only qualifies a cowboy to compete for a gold buckle. Every world title is decided on Las Vegas’ big stage. 

If that’s enough cowboy action, the NFR Cowboy Christmas gift show also starts on Dec. 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, running through Dec. 12. 

The Las Vegas Backstage Access calendar lists some of the many events.

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Ex-NBA Star Avoids Jail for Las Vegas Casino Bad Check Charges

Former NBA all-star Antoine Walker has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle bad check charges with three Las Vegas casinos and avoid trial on felony criminal charges, a defense lawyer and prosecutor said Monday. 

Walker wasn’t in court when his attorney, Jonathan Powell, described a plan for his client to pay a minimum of almost $13,000 a month over five years to settle a complaint stemming from casino debts at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort. 

Powell on Monday described his 33-year-old, 6-foot-9 client as unemployed, but said he hopes to sign with a team in the U.S. or Europe. If he does, Walker promises to increase payments to almost $21,400 per month and finish the repayment plan within three years. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access has written other articles on this case.

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USA Sevens Rugby Tournament Prepares for Huge Las Vegas Tournament in February

Sports fans may find something to interest them during the usually quiet February when Las Vegas, the so-called Entertainment Capital of the World, hosts the USA Sevens rugby tournament and an International Fan Festival on February 13 and 14.

Set to take place at the Sam Boyd Stadium, the two-day weekend rugged and highly competitive event will feature some of the world’s leading rugby sevens teams, including vanguard teams representing England, South Africa and New Zealand. 

Currently ranked 11th internationally, the U.S. team, departed last Thursday, Nov. 26 for the Series opening tournament in Dubai, UAE (Dec. 4-5), where it will face England, Kenya and Russia.

Returning players from the U.S. squad that went to Dubai in 2008 are Matt Hawkins and Mark Bokhoven, who both return from injuries, Nese Malifa and Shalom Suniula. The remainder of the U.S. team is comprised of relatively new faces, but the players are reportedly fast, fit, strong and very skillful.

Captaining the U.S. team is veteran Jone Naqica, who is the most capped U.S. Sevens player and all-time leading scorer for the Eagle Sevens team.

Attendance at the 2009 games was more than 37,000, an increase of greater than 40% from 2007, with 2010 games anticipated to grow even more. 

Featuring 16 professional teams from all parts of the world, the Las Vegas weekend event captures international attention with 44 games providing more than eight hours of play on each day. 

Each game of the round-robin style tournament is less than twenty minutes, providing fast and intense competition.  Watching some of the quickest and most agile athletes in the world, spectators are entertained by the fast paced, high scoring games, as well as the electric atmosphere created by the avid fans. 

To learn more, please log onto http://www.usasevens.com/

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Pacquiao-Cotto Fight in Las Vegas on Saturday to Be One for the Ages

Boxer Manny Pacquiao’s massive punching power is only matched by his massive drawing power, which has grown to overwhelm the traditional boundaries of the often insular realm of boxing, is driving the appeal of Saturday’s megafight with Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas- the boxing capital of the world.PacquiaoCotto

Arguably the most celebrated persona in his native Philippines, Pacquiao’s visage now graces the cover of the Asia edition of Time magazine. A five-page feature story appears in all editions, global and U.S., of the magazine. It delves into Pacquiao’s humble roots and his political ambitions in his homeland. 

“It is a great honor for me to be the face of my people and to let everyone know we are a small but mighty country,” Pacquiao said. “I have great pride for all of the Filipinos living throughout the world and it is these people that I fight for each and every time I step into the ring.” 

As a point of comparison, the most recent boxing covers of Time’s U.S. edition came in 1988 (Mike Tyson), 1978 (Muhammad Ali) and 1971 (Ali and Joe Frazier). 

Officials with Top Rank, the lead promoter of Saturday’s fight, point to a recent Sunday feature on Pacquiao in The New York Times as a manifestation of the media blitz that has accompanied the buildup to the fight. It was important to the promotion because of the worldwide reach of the newspaper’s Sunday edition.

It was also significant, and telling, because the Times typically affords boxing about as much coverage as it does the lumberjack competition. 

In a separate arena, Pacquiao was recognized this year as a Gusi Peace Prize laureate, an honor based in Manila, for humanitarianism. 

Pacquiao’s training sessions at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., leading up to the fight not only generate mob scenes of fans and media members, but also attract the attention of the fire marshal to ensure the scene remains under some degree of control.

With its widespread appeal — “Beyond boxing, beyond sports,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said — the fight promotion has drawn some unconventional corporate partners. For example, the History Channel’s reality series “Pawn Stars,” about a family of Las Vegas pawnbrokers, is a sponsor. Among other branding efforts, the “Pawn Stars” logo will appear on the mat Saturday night.

It’s all expected to add up to pay-per-view sales — the engine that powers the big-time boxing business — for the fight that could approach or exceed record performances. 

The biggest pay-per-view bonanza to date was the 2007 fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand, which generated 2.4 million “buys.” This year, Pacquiao’s fight against Ricky Hatton did about 900,000 buys, and Mayweather’s fight with Juan Manuel Marquez generated about 1 million. 

“The closed-circuit locations are doing tremendously” in the lead-up to Pacquiao-Cotto, Arum said. “We had the quickest sellout of tickets in years. We base how the pay-per-view is going to do on those indicators. It should do absolutely great.”

Pacquiao stands to earn $20 million for the fight, with Cotto’s total take expected to reach $10 million — the biggest paydays for both fighters. 

The hook (no pun intended) is that Pacquiao, nearly a 3-1 betting favorite, will be pursuing a world title in a seventh weight division. But that’s just the sports-trivia way of wording it. 

In real terms, Pacquiao has done more than any other boxer to obliterate the very notion of weight classes in boxing, along with the fractured and too-often meaningless so-called championships they spawn. He wants to test himself against the best. 

The “catch weight” for Saturday’s fight is 145 pounds, but Pacquiao said if it was up to him personally, he would have gladly agreed to fight at the 147-pound welterweight limit. 

Wisely — and appropriately — everyone associated with the fight has declined to address the next step for the winner, although a potential showdown with Mayweather awaits. 

And for another, Saturday’s fight is a tough one to predict. It has split journalists, fighters and other boxing figures in their forecasts. Let’s say, for instance, it ends with a close decision. A rematch between Pacquiao and Cotto is a real possibility.

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Las Vegas World Series of Poker $8.5 Million Main Event Won Today by Youngest Winner Ever– 21-year-old Joe Cada from Michigan

A 21-year-old Michigan poker professional who chose cards over college won the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas early today, winning $8.55 million and becoming the youngest player to win the tournament in its 40-year history. JoeCada

Joe Cada of Shelby Township, Mich., turned over a pair of nines early after 46-year old Darvin Moon called his all-in wager with a suited queen-jack, setting up an about-even race for most of the chips on the table. 

But a board of two sevens, a king, an eight and a deuce didn’t connect with either player’s cards and gave Cada the win. 

“I ran really well and I never really thought this was possible,” Cada said. “It was one of those dreams and I’m thankful it came true.” 

The hand abruptly ended a final table that saw Moon, a logger from western Maryland, bounce back to a dominant chip lead after being down 2-1 in chips to start the night. 

“I knew if I could catch, I got him,” Moon said of the final hand. “I just took a shot.”

 Cada broke a record for the tournament’s youngest winner set last year by Peter Eastgate of Denmark. Cada is 340 days younger than Eastgate. 

The record was previously held for two decades by 11-time gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, who posed for pictures with Cada after the win. 

When asked what’s next for him after reaching the pinnacle for poker so early in his career, Cada said: “To win it back-to-back.” 

Moon and Cada traded the lead several times in 88 hands spanning nearly three hours of play, with one 20-minute break. 

Moon won $5.18 million for second place. 

“I only play good when my back’s against the wall,” said Cada, who was nearly ousted from the tournament on Saturday when he held about 1 percent of the chips in play after 123 hands. 

The players traded chips atop a table with a stack of cash and a gold bracelet on its felt, and in front of nearly 1,500 screaming fans in a capacity crowd at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. 

Their tug-of-war ended an epic tournament that began with 6,494 players in July. 

Unlike Cada, who said he regularly plays about a dozen tournaments at a time online or three at a time in heads-up cash games, Moon hasn’t played a single hand of online poker. He doesn’t even own a computer or have an e-mail address.

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‘Cowboy Up’ as Professional Bull Riders World Finals come to Las Vegas

Riders and officials are optimistic that this year’s Professional Bull Riders World Finals, which kick off today at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, could be the best in the 15-year history of the event. bullriding

Most years, a clear favorite enters the World Finals with a major advantage in points. That’s not the case this year. 

Twelve bull riders are still statistically alive for this year’s championship and three — Kody Lostroh, Guilherme Marchi and J.B. Mauney — all are within 1,000 points of each other, which is a very small margin. 

The action begins 6 p.m. today and runs through Nov. 8, when the championship round will be held. 

With the close competition, this year just one ride could be the difference in winning a championship.

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Former NBA Celtic Star Antoine Walker in Serious Debt, Writes $1 Million in Bad Checks in Las Vegas

Antoine Walker, a former NBA Boston Celtics star, is in deep debt and has been under pursuit of multiple financial institutions recently- and now, even Sin City has caught up with the wayward dribbler. AntoineWalker

Reportedly, in 12 years, 33-year-old Walker made more than $110 million by playing professional basketball just so-so. Taking away taxes, throwing in some aid as endorsement money and a “NBA Live 99” cover, he should be left with around $60 million. 

But all that loot has apparently vanished.  During the last several months, the once multi-millionaire athlete has been pursued by multiple financial institutions for unpaid debts. 

Now, Walker owes more than $4 million dollars to his creditors and is facing felony check fraud charges for allegedly writing $1 million in bad checks in Las Vegas.  Talk about a major foul out!

Does he need counseling from the reformed and outspoken NBA player Charles Barkley? 

How could that amount of money dissipate?   Well, Walker lived large- really large.  He always rolled with an outsized entourage. His mother estimates that, during his playing days, he was supporting 70 friends and family members in one way or another. 

And speaking of his good ol’ mom:  he built her a mansion in the Chicago suburbs, complete with an indoor pool, 10 bathrooms, and a full-size basketball court– hopefully, it allows her wheelchair access and includes a trainer.

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Tennis Great, Las Vegan Andre Agassi Admits Using Crystal Meth in Autobiography

In his upcoming book, iconic tennis star, businessman, educator and Las Vegas resident Andre Agassi admits that in 1997 he used the recreational drug crystal meth or “gack,” as his assistant referrred to it, while he was married to Brooke Shields. AndreAgassi3

“I can’t speak to addiction, but a lot of people would say that if you’re using anything as an escape, you have a problem,” he reportedly tells People magazine. 

The book not only details his drug use, but it also touches on his hair loss, his tumultuous marriage to Brooke Shields and how happy he is with his current wife, Steffi Graf. 

Agassi says he was not concerned about revealing his drug use. “I was worried for a moment, but not for long. … I wore my heart on my sleeve and my emotions were always written on my face. I was actually excited about telling the world the whole story.” 

His book, Open: An Autobiography will be in stores on November 9, but is being serialized by the Times of London beginning tomorrow. 

Later, although Agassi tested positive for the drug, he managed to continue to play tennis. 

While the admission now may get him in hot water with the tennis and sports kingdom, it certainly can’t hurt his book sales- or can it?

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PokerStars adding Online Pro division?

It appears that PokerStars will be adding a primarily online section of its Team Pro roster.

The employee that runs the official PokerStars twitter account recently tweeted the following:

“Team PokerStars Online Pro is a new branch of our team who’ll be playing mainly online not live. Anyone will be able to apply in due course.”

Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu re-Tweeted the message.

PokerStars already has some very respectable online players with Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Jason “treysfull21” Mercier and Hevad “RaiNKhaN” Khan all in the Team PokerStars Pro fold.

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Bobb Barr speaks out on Internet Gambling

Former House Representative Bob Barr is the latest public figure to comment on the state of online gambling in his Atlanta Journal-Constitution column, the Barr Code. 

Barr mentioned that the potentially revenue generated from legalizing, regulating and taxing online poker was becoming harder for the government to ignore. 

Barr went on to say it was very likely that Barney Frank’s pro-online gambling bill would go before a hearing this fall. 

Earlier this year, conservative columnist George Will wrote in his Washington Post column that he supported the legalization of online poker.

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World Extreme Cagefighting Expected to Return to Las Vegas on Dec. 19

World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is expected to remain in Las Vegas through the end of the year, as the promotion’s rumored WEC 45 event will reportedly take place on December 19 in Las Vegas, likely at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Cagefighting

The Versus-televised event follows November’s WEC 44 card, which will be held at The Pearl at The Palms in Las Vegas and is headlined by featherweight champ Mike Brown vs. challenger Jose Aldo. 

Originally expected to feature the return of lightweight champ Jamie Varner against recently-crowned interim title-holder Ben Henderson as well as the return of former featherweight champ Urijah Faber, it remains to be seen what matchup will headline the event as Henderson’s injuries suffered in last weekend’s win over Donald Cerrone will sideline him until early next year and Faber’s return is currently slated for January. 

During the latest installment of ESPN’s “MMA Live,” Cerrone’s teammate Rashad Evans said “The Cowboy” could get his anticipated rematch with Varner with Henderson hurt, and the Cerrone-Varner matchup appears to be a possibility to headline WEC 45, though a non-title bout, including the return of former bantamweight king Miguel Torres, could be tapped for the WEC 45 main event. 

One confirmed participant for WEC 45 is Bart Palaszewski, who returns to the WEC after scoring a knockout win outside the promotion earlier this month.

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Major Rugby Tournament comes to Las Vegas

A huge sporting event is coming to Las Vegas starting early next year. The USA Sevens Rugby Tournament is moving to Las Vegas from San Diego, California. Rugby

Tournament organizers have just signed a multi-year commitment. 

Officials say they chose Las Vegas for a number of reasons, including its name recognition and its ability to attract visitors of all kinds. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman expects thousands of fans from around the world to come for the tournament each year. “You pick your favorite team, your favorite player, and they play in great spots. They come from all over the world. They’re going to be coming here to Las Vegas,” he said. 

Goodman also says he expects rugby’s popularity to grow now that it’s been added to the Olympics starting in 2016. 

The first tournament will be held in Las Vegas in February.

 

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“Sugar” Shane Mosley to fight Andre Berto in Las Vegas on Jan. 30

The chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions said  he has “finalized” a deal to match Pomona’s Shane Mosley, right, (46-5, 39 KOs) versus Andre Berto (26-0, 19 KOs) in a world welterweight title unification bout on Jan. 30 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. 

Mosley, who aspires to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. and/or Manny Pacquiao, had a TKO victory over Antonio Margarito earlier this year. ShaneMosley

Bernard Hopkins will fight Enrique Ornelas on Dec. 2 in Philadelphia. If he wins, as expected, Hopkins will fight Roy Jones Jr. sometime in 2010.

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Las Vegas Locos Roll California Redwoods in UFL Season Opener

The UFL is off to a great start. It is somewhat hard to gauge what kind of start since the expectations for this league are pretty low.  But, regardless, they held their first game Saturday night on the cable channel and live from Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Las Vegas Locos (full name:  Locomotives) defeated the California Redwoods 31-17 in what was a pretty entertaining game. Locomotives

What this league is exactly is still yet to be known. What it is not is the NFL, and that may be a very good thing. It is also not College Football and it is also not an Arena style league. 

This is going to be a niche league for hardcore football fans that can’t get enough of football and see players who never quite made it in the NFL, or are on the way up to the NFL. The best thing for this league would be to get a few of its players to play the full UFL season and then move up to the NFL to replace injured players there later in the NFL year. 

This is going to be some kind of unofficial minor league to the NFL. While that may sound harsh, it is the kind of league that there seems to be a market for. 

Football fans like, for example, QB JP Losman of the Locomotives who was a first round pick of the Buffalso Bills and spent five years there essentially doing nothing, Seeing Losman go out in his UFL debut and throw for two TD’s and 226 yards, while going 21 for 31 in the process, was a very good thing.

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Snow Skiing in Las Vegas? Setting U.S. Record?

The Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort on Mt. Charleston may be able to open earlier this year than ever before thanks to recent cold temperatures. If it opens this weekend – plans call for possibly opening this Thurs. or Friday – it will be their longest season ever.   And, if that happens, it may just well mean that this usually hotter than hell climate will be part of a new national record for winter snow– beating out every other ski resort in the country and open first. snow2

The staff at the resort says recent cold weather has allowed them to make plenty of manmade snow and that means the slopes can open early and they can hire more employees sooner- very good news for a very stale Las Vegas economy with unemployment running nearly 11 percent. 

The dip in temperatures this week is allowing snowmakers at the resort to create fresh powder sooner than ever before.   In order to pull it off and open sometime this week, the resort needs one more night of cold temperatures. He says snowmakers have been able to create all the snow in the last two nights when temperatures on Mount Charleston dropped to about 18-degrees at the 8,600-foot mountain elevation.

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Chicago Loses U.S. 2016 Olympics Bid? It can’t be! Recount!

Celebrities and politicians chimed in at the last moment and tried to convince more Olympic voters that Chicago is the only way to go for the 2016 Olympics.  Celebrities?  Barack Obama, the guy that’s the President of the United States whose trying to iron out healthcare?  RiodeJaneiro

Las Vegas Backstage Access wonders why so many writhed their hands and were in such a shock and awe tizzy when Rio de Janerio, right, received the city nod.  I mean, after all, didn’t we collectively spend over $200 million to attract the judges?  

Some argue that the upfront earnest marketing money spent could have been better applied to help feed the homeless or other socially viable programs.  After all, didn’t the unchecked national chicanery wipe out the life savings of thousands? 

Get a grip, people.   The U.S. didn’t just lose, it came in last place.   How could that be?   Maybe a contributor is that the U.S. has and is still suffering from the most devasting financial crisis and loss of consumer confidence on record. It’s not like the hotbed of high morale.  For a long time, charlatans, thieves by another name, ran the henhouse.  And it’s not over yet.   With each passing day new schemes are being discovered that rob people of their hard earned savings.

Ironically, on the same day of the Olympic city announcement, the national unemployment rates were also announced- which rose once again rose to 9.8 percent. 

The Olympics is all about having world competitive sporting games and crowning the winners at that moment in time. Nothing more and nothing less.  

Perhaps now some of this same fervor, if anybody cares, could be claimed and channeled into higher ROI projects, with a quicker return to a U.S. society that is crumbling with each passing day and on the potential verge of withering away due to misaligned priorities and just plain neglect. 

The U.S. didn’t really lose the Olympics bid– unexpectedly, we’ve just had a godsend infusion of good old fashioned common sense.  Thomas Paine is probably joyously rolling over in his grave.

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Las Vegas Scores Some ‘Love’ in Tennis Contest

Las Vegas was one of the finalists in the United States Tennis Association’s Best Tennis Town contest, but did not finish in the top three. tennis

The winner was Midland, Mich., with the first runner-up going to Ojai, Calif., and Independence, Kan., was named second runner-up.  The announcements were made earlier this month at the U.S. Open. 

As one of seven honorable mentions, Las Vegas will receive $2,000 worth of tennis equipment.  No word on when the equipment will be received or where it will be used. 

The competition was organized to spotlight towns that demonstrated a commitment to promoting the sport.

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Harrah’s Extends World Series of Poker Contract with IMG Sports & Entertainment

Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment and IMG Sports & Entertainment announced a four-year contract extension for global representation of the WSOP property. 

According to the agreement, IMG will continue to use its international network to help establish the brand in areas beyond Las Vegas and London. 

“We are looking to emphasize the ‘World’ in World Series of Poker as our vision of the brand extends beyond the annual events in Las Vegas and London,” said Mitch Garber, CEO of Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment. 

“By tapping the global reach and expertise of IMG, we are confident that together we can take the brand to new levels on the international stage through new international bracelet events and other WSOP licensed poker events.”

 IMG has worked with the WSOP since 2005 and helped attract corporate sponsors like Jack Link’s, Hershey’s and Planters.

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‘Bloodless’ Bullfighting Catches Kitschy Las Vegas Off-Guard

Bullfighting1875sFace it:  Every day is really a crap shoot in Las Vegas.  Some days are great.  Others are so-so.  And yet still others are pure hell.  But imagine your worst nightmare of waking up to face-to-face to a grunting, over one thousand pound drooling bull – the epitome of True Mean reincarnated – staring you down with flaming red eyes, refusing to budge an inch.  And yet you’re tasked to make him “play” with you, armed only with a bright red or pink cape and a Velcro-tipped stick.   Goliath had it better.  And, if this isn’t bad enough– you don’t wake up. Bullfighting1861s

That nightmare became a real sweaty and death defying reality for some of the world’s greatest bullfighters yesterday when a sparse, but extremely enthusiastic crowd of approximately 500 people, most of whom were Hispanic and spoke Spanish, paid from $60 to $650 each to see a very rare “bloodless” bullfight at the South Point hotel-casino south of the Las Vegas Strip. 

The event, staged in part to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, which is this Wednesday, was reportedly the first bullfight staged in the Las Vegas Valley since 1965, when one was staged outside Las Vegas, near what today is Primm, Nevada. 

Bullfighting1834sHow does the new sport work?  A patch of Velcro is fastened to the bull’s back and, rather than using a killing sword, the matador tries to deftly attach a Velcro-coated stick to the bull’s withers.  Though it appears they’ve stabbed the bull, the animal is unhurt and walks away to fight another day, as does the bullfighter.   Win-win.  Or is it?

For the matadors this emerging style of bullfighting is extremely dangerous when compared to regular bullfighting because the animals are not injured or first weakened by the placing of metal spears in the bull before the final kill. 

The matadors, wearing the traje de luces, or the colorful sequined suit of lights, included several who are the cultural icons in their home countries of Mexico and Spain, made quite a show of taunting the bulls.   Some made $500,000 just for an afternoon appearance. 

Las Vegas, the City of Kitsch, would normally have gobbled up this type of event up with fans ya-hooing it from the rafters. But the small crowd in the events center that holds thousands testifies not only to our sour economy but  the combination of the limited event marketing and having the event kickoff on non-prime weekdays.  

Bloodless bullfighting has just started to take hold throughout the U.S., becoming popular elsewhere, including California. 

In Mexico, Spain, and Portugal – the home of bullfighting – bullfights are huge events; parties can go on seemingly endlessly before and after the event. 

Outside the event, a handful of PETA members voiced objections to the event, saying that the bulls were in danger and at risk for injury and that promoting bullfighting in general was not a good thing. 

The event continues at 2 p.m. today and will return to South Point on Sept. 27-30.

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Book Industry Steams Full Speed Ahead

With the economy languishing in the doldrums, the good news is that the book business is steaming full speed ahead, thanks primarily to biographies and autobiographies galore which are selling like the proverbial hotcakes.  

Sen. Ted Kennedy’s “True Compass” autobiography has become very popular upon the death of the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.  

Capt. Chesley Sullenberger reflects on his life and the miraculous landing in the Hudson River in “Highest Duty.”  

And, due to the recently released film “Julie & Julia,” Julia Child, though deceased, is again the country’s most popular cookbook writer and her longtime editor, Judith Jones, even has a memoir out about her own love of food. 

Not to be outstripped, supermodel and TV star Heidi Klum is also getting into the visual autobiography act, and her status is about to get a whole lot steamier thanks to a new very sexy coffee table book on her called “Rankin’s Heidilicious” which is due out in October from publisher teNeues. 

“It’s very naughty, I’ve been shooting with this photographer, Rankin, for seven years and working with him is fun because he always makes me look different,” Klum says.  “He always gets me to take my clothes off for some reason. We’ll do some job and then he’ll say, ‘Why don’t we shoot some more things?’ and I’ll wind up without anything on.” 

In fact, steaming hot book sales have been the order of the day for many book industry genres.  The Association of American Publishers, which had been reporting declines for much of this year, finally had some good news last week, announcing a whopping 21.5 percent sales increase for June. 

Adding to the sizzling book revenue upswing, Las Vegan and eight-time Grand Slam tennis singles champion Andre Agassi, who retired from professional tennis in 2006, has recently announced that his autobiography, “Open,” is heading to bookstore shelves in November. In the book, he discusses his start in tennis as a child, his relationship with his father and his failed marriage to Brooke Shields. AndreAgassi2

Andre Agassi’s autobiography will be published by Alfred A. Knopf and be out on November 9 says Sonny Mehta, Chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 

“Open” is a deeply personal account of Agassi’s life on and off the court and will be simultaneously published in Canada, England, Germany, France and the Netherlands. 

The Knopf first printing has been set at 500,000 copies, and it will also be available as a Random House audio book. 

Moreover, ’60 Minutes’ has agreed to conduct the first interview with Agassi about his autobiography and ‘People’ magazine and ‘Sports Illustrated’ have both purchased first serial rights to the book. 

“No one ever asked me if I wanted to play tennis,” Agassi writes, “let alone make it my life.” In “Open,” he recalls for the first time a childhood without choices. Forced to embrace tennis, banished to a brutal tennis camp while still in grade school, catapulted to fame while still in his teens, Agassi grew up feeling isolated, alienated, detached.   He writes on how he reconnected, how he overcame his fears, fought through his loneliness, found strength and purpose in the decision to devote his life to others — and in the love of one extraordinary woman. 

Agassi writes with uncommon candor about his father, his family, his best friends and first loves. He recounts the intimate details of his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. 

Agassi describes the grind of playing championship tennis, the physical toll and greater mental toll. He recalls his most painful moments in the sport — humiliating defeats, career-threatening injuries, ridicule from fans and media — but celebrates the maturity to which they all led. He also puts his fellow players, including legendary greats, under the microscope of his astounding memory. With precision and grace he recalls their quirks, gifts, foibles, and the demons with which they often struggled.

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Police Confiscate Floyd Mayweather’s Arsenal, Investigate Shooting Incident

“Impulsive” is written all over professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a hallmark of his boxing career and his life.  

Las Vegas police are continuing to investigate an Aug. 16 shooting outside a Las Vegas skating rink that uncovered two handguns, ammunition and two bulletproof vests from the Summerlin, Nevada boxer’s home.floydmayweather2

One of the alleged victims in the shooting incident reporteldy told investigators that the six-time champion threatened him 10 minutes before another man shot at his car from the rink’s parking lot as they drove away.    

Mayweather’s Rolls Royce was seen in the parking lot of the Crystal Palace Skating Center, on Boulder Highway near Flamingo Road.   A witness, 24-year-old Quincey Williams, told the Review-Journal the boxer threatened him over a text message Williams sent him saying he hoped the undefeated Mayweather would lose. 

Mayweather said, “He’s got enough money to get me hit,” Williams said. Williams considered it a threat to his life. 

Not more than an hour later, as Williams and a friend were leaving, Williams said the car he was riding in was peppered with six gunshots.

Fortunately, no one was hit by the shooting. 

Mayweather has not been named as an official suspect, and a man police are seeking has not been arrested. 

This incident preceded his guest star episode on Monday Night RAW that, despite negative fan comments, scored extremely high on total viewer ratings according to WWE standards– it was the second highest rating since WWE started their “guest host” storyline. 

Mayweather has had various run-ins with the law in the past. A year ago, about $7 million in jewelry was stolen from his Summerlin home, believed to be one of the most lucrative burglaries in Las Vegas history. 

In 2002, he pleaded guilty to two charges of domestic violence and received a suspended six-month sentence.  

In 2003, Mayweather faced a felony domestic violence charge involving the mother of three of his children. A jury acquitted him after the woman recanted her original story that Mayweather hit her. 

In 2004, a Justice of the Peace, Deborah Lippis, convicted him on two counts of misdemeanor battery after two women claimed he punched them outside a nightclub. 

Mayweather, a six-time world champion in multiple weight classes, retired from the ring in 2008. But then, as he did in the past, he quickly “unretired” and now has a Sept. 19 12-round welterweight bout scheduled at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with Juan Manuel Marquez that will be televised on HBO.

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Chuck Liddell Gets Tough for “Dancing With The Stars”

It won’t be Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Wanderlei Silva, or Randy Couture ready to bite and/or tear off his head in the steel octagon, but, rather, on Monday, September 21st, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck and frequent Las Vegas visitor Liddell will makes his debut in a new ring–  ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” chuckliddell

“I want to win,” Liddell told UFC.com. “I don’t like losing in anything, so I’ll work as hard as they’ll let me.” “The Iceman” will join 15 other celebrities on the hit series, in the process becoming the first mixed martial artist to compete on DWTS. But Liddell, the sport’s first true crossover star, is comfortable with being an ambassador for MMA, and looking forward to having some fun in the process. 

“I’m gonna go out, be myself, and show what kind of people we do have in this sport,” he said. “I’m sure the reaction will be mixed (among fight fans).”

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‘Bad Boy’ NASCAR Racer, Las Vegan Kyle Busch Prays for a Kinder Slap in the Face

Although the brash, daring and yet talented Las Vegan and NASCAR racer Kyle Busch won last Saturday’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, he’s got to really put the pedal to the metal if he wants to move from his 13th place in the point standings to at least 12th place- a requirement necessary to advance into Sprint Cup’s “post-season playoffs” that begin Sept. 20 in New Hampshire. 

To accomplish this rather Herculean feat and become eligible for NASCAR’s 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the Championship, Busch will need to place high in the upcoming 500-miler near Atlanta and a 400-lapper at Richmond. 

Kyle may have an inkling of a chance if his finish at Bristol is any indication.  The Joe Gibbs Racing star led the final 68 laps around the half-mile, high-banked track and endured four double-file restarts in the final 60 laps for his fourth win and his first trophy in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series since last May, completing the 500 laps at an 84.820 mph average speed, with a margin of victory of 0.098 seconds over second place finisher Mark Martin. 

Currently, he’s standing 34 points behind 12th-place Matt Kenseth for the last playoff spot.

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Baseball’s Bryce Harper’s Frustrating Day at Work

The recent Sports Illustrated cover boy from Las Vegas (previously reported in Las Vegas Backstage Access article) is, apparently, facing hard times.  In an all-star baseball game last Sunday in San Diego, the high school turned college prep star grounded out twice and struck out three times in five plate appearances. 

“He could not catch up to a decent fastball and was fooled by every curve,” Dave Perkins of Baseball America wrote.  “Harper’s swing, sound previously, has gone backward.”

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Down Goes MMA Fighter Gina Carano from Las Vegas

Gina Carano, the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts fighter lost her first women’s MMA championship bout a week ago Saturday in San Jose.  GinaCarano2  But, judging from her talents, she’s definitely not out for the count.

As previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access, her opponent was Christiane “Cyborg” Santos, who scored a mechanical TKO middleweight victory with a second left in the opening round.  

It was Carano’s first defeat in eight fights.

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Boxer Floyd Mayweater to Host WWE Raw on Monday

Boxer Floyd Mayweather, who resides in Las Vegas much of the time, officially was announced the World Wrestling Entertainment Raw telecast as the host for this Monday’s event. FloydMayweather

Mayweather, who participated in WrestleMania XXIV in 2008, when he defeated Paul “Big Show” Wight in a match at Orlando, Fla., will host the Aug. 24 event at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. 

Mayweather is training for a Sept. 19 comeback fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

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Las Vegas’ Bone-Jarring Off-Road Race to Reno

Taking the boring jaunt from Las Vegas to Reno by car is a ho-hummer, requiring plenty of java to stay awake.  But if you want to really perk up, then consider competing in the longer off-road race – accompanied by plenty of bone-jarring terrain to keep you awake – 1,000 miles from Las Vegas to Reno. 

That’s what 300 off-road racers are doing this weekend in the Best in the West Desert Racing Association’s annual “Vegas to Reno the Long Way.”  The race started Thursday and is making the third and final leg from Hawthorne to Reno today. 

Typically, about 30 percent of the trucks and motorcycles don’t make the finish line.

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Locomotives Steam into Las Vegas

The Las Vegas entry in the new United Football League will be called the Locomotives.

UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue recently announced the name and unveiled team uniforms of silver, blue and white. The name was selected after reviewing more than 30,000 fan entries.

Former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel will coach the Locomotives, who will play San Francisco in the league’s first game on October 8.

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NFL Player LaMont Jordan Sued by Las Vegas Casino

LaMontJordanNFL running back LaMont Jordan has been accused by the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas of failing to honor markers totaling $20,000, according to a suit filed by the resort in Clark County. The debts are treated as bad checks by Nevada law, and can result in criminal charges and arrest, if not resolved.

Jordan joins NBA stars Charles Barkley and Antoine Walker in being pursued by casinos chasing gambling debts. Barkley and Walker each owed many times as much as Jordan, causing a public splash over athletes extended credit to gamble who then defaulted.

Barkley paid his debt and a ten percent fee to the Clark County attorney’s office. Walker was arrested only days after the claim against him was filed while visiting a Reno casino.

Jordan’s debts are from June of last year, say Mirage officials. Six vouchers totalling $20,000 were issued over two days, but payment was rejected for insufficient funds.

Jordan has played for the New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders, and the New England Patriots. This year he enters the season on the roster of the Denver Broncos.

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Shaquille O’ Neal & Oscar de la Hoya Go Head-to-Head in Las Vegas

NBA superstar Shaquille O’ Neal and championship boxer Oscar de la Hoya will discuss their head-to-head matchup exhibition at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Tuesday.  The match which will be featured in an Oscardelahoyaepisode of the new reality series “Shaq VS” on ABC Television Network. Shaq

ABC and Media Rights Capital announced the premiere of “Shaq VS,” a new competition series starring NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal. The one-hour series, in which O’Neal will take his athletic prowess beyond the basketball court and strive to become a champion in a new sporting event each week, will debut on August 18 from 9 to 10 p.m. ET on ABC. 

If you would enjoy an article on this event for your publication, please contact Las Vegas Backstage Access by commenting on this article.

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Chef Emeril Lagasse Announces ‘Lagasse’s Stadium’ in Las Vegas

Chef Emeril Lagasse and The Palazzo in Las Vegas announced Lagasse’s Stadium – a ground-breaking new place to dine, watch and play – opening this fall at The Palazzo Resort-Hotel-Casino. Sports fans will be in the center of the action while enjoying Chef Emeril’s world-famous cuisine and warm hospitality in this new state-of-the-art venue.  EmerilLagasse

Custom sports viewing walls consisting of nearly 100 high definition screens will provide unprecedented access to nearly every major college and professional sporting event, including must-see bowl games, track races, tournaments, and championship match-ups. 

Lagasse’s Stadium will be Lagasse’s third project with The Palazzo and adjoining Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino. The other two endeavors include the acclaimed Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian and Table 10 at The Palazzo. 

“Lagasse’s Stadium will be the ultimate sports bar and restaurant on The Strip,” said Rob Goldstein, president and COO of The Palazzo and The Venetian. “With its accessible location and unique design it will provide sports enthusiasts a great location to kick- back, relax, and enjoy great food and beverages while watching their favorite sporting games and highlights on the big screens.” 

Renovation of the 24,000-square-foot space, formerly occupied by The Sportsbook Bar & Grill, began in June. The club also features access to a street level outdoor space bordering Las Vegas Boulevard. Spectators can enjoy impressive views of The Palazzo and the Las Vegas Strip while dining in a unique open-air setting. The location will feature lounge and stadium-style seating, and luxury boxes for exclusive private events.

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Sports Illustrated Las Vegas Baseball Star Bryce Harper Slotted for ESPN Show

Former Las Vegas High baseball standout and Sports Illustrated cover athlete Bryce Harper will be featured on an episode of the ESPN network sports magazine “E:60.” 

The profile will deal with Harper’s controversial decision to forgo his final two years of high school to play at the College of Southern Nevada next season. 

The show airs at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11.

[Las Vegas Backstage Access has written prior articles on Harper. Please use search feature.]

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Larger Bets in Las Vegas?

A group of Las Vegas casino operators are planning to pool their sports book bets so their books can handle heavier betting action. 

South Point owner Michael Gaughan received preliminary approval from Nevada’s Gaming Control Board to pool sports bets with the Palms, both Cannery casinos and the Rampart Casino at the JW Marriott in Las Vegas. 

Pooling will allow the books to accept larger bets on all sports, but the casino operators really want to capture a larger share of college and pro football bets when the season begins in September. 

The arrangement will allow these casinos to compete more effectively against larger casinos that run multiple books, including Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming Corp., MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment. 

The properties, however, can’t begin taking bets under the proposed system until the Nevada Gaming Commission approves the plan.  They plan to consider the proposal at their Aug. 20 meeting in Carson City, Nevada.

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Cool Entertainment Happenings in Las Vegas This Weekend

With the Las Vegas temperature cooling a tad this weekend (if 100 degrees is better than 110 for you), it’s a great time to get out and about, blissfully frolicking in all the tempting merriment.  Here’s our Las Vegas Backstage Access Best Bets on a roll:  Usher is walking the red carpet at 7 p.m. tonight at the Playboy Club at the Palms.  Jenny McCarthy will be at Pure nightclub at Caesars Palace on Saturday, walking the red carpet around 11:30 p.m.  Judas Priest and Whitesnake will be whaling away at Thomas & Mack on Saturday night. No Doubt and Panic at the Disco will perform tonight at the Hard Rock.  Country singer Alan Jackson will be at M Resort’s outdoor piazza on Saturday. If extreme cagefighting is your cup of tea, check out the diminutive Miguel Angel Torres and Brian Bowles as they fight for the coveted WEC bantamweight championship at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel.   If soothing your nerves is the order of the day, take in the cool relaxing jazz from Elvis Costello’s hot wife, Diana Krall, as she performs at The Pearl at the Palms at 8 p.m. on Saturday.  For a great blast from the past, listen to Gladys Knight as she pips away today through Sunday at 8 p.m. in the Showroom in The Orleans.  Whew!

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Florida Team Captures National Softball Title in Las Vegas

Maddie O’Brien’s two-run double keyed a four-run fifth inning Sunday as the Tampa (Fla.) Mustangs defeated the Elyria (Ohio) Sun Dogs 7-5 to capture the ASA/USA Class A 18-and-under national softball tournament at Majestic Park in Las Vegas. 

The Mustangs, whose roster includes Las Vegan Amanda Montalto, a Palo Verde High School graduate, were the only squad in the 140-team field not to lose a game in bracket play. 

Elyria lost its opening bracket-play game before rattling off 12 straight victories- including four each on Friday and Saturday- to reach the final game.

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140 Teams Converge in Las Vegas for National Softball Tournament Today

110-degree temperatures and sweltering humidity doesn’t phase a field of 140 fastpitch softball teams from around the United States, including five from Las Vegas, that begin play today at Majestic Park in Las Vegas in the USA/ASA 18-under Class A national tournament.  Nearly every state is represented. 

It’s such a high-demand and competitive tournament that Las Vegas won’t be permitted to bid on hosting the tournament again for seven years. 

Each team will play two pool games today and Tuesday with a double-elimination bracket play starting Wednesday.  Games begin at 8 a.m. daily.  Tournament concludes Sunday.

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Final Table Revealed for World Series of Poker in Las Vegas

The original field of World Series of Poker (WSOP) began with 6,494 competitors.  Now, after nearly 11 hours of play in the Rio’s convention pavilion, the nine-player final table is set for the World Series of Poker’s $10,000 no-limit hold ‘em world championship.  

The final table, a mixed bag of experienced poker professionals and amateurs ranging in age from 21 to 51, are now on a four-month break. 

The World Series of Poker resumes November 7, this time inside the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater.  The nine players will compete until a heads-up table of two is reached.  The pair will come back November 9 and play for the title.  ESPN will broadcast it the next evening. 

The chip leader going forward is Darvin Moon, a logger from Cleveland, Md.. The other eight players in the final table are Eric Buchman of Valley Stream, N.Y., former Bear Stearns executive Steven Begleiter of Chappaqua, N.Y., Card Player magazine editor Jeff Shulman of Las Vegas, Joseph Cada of Shelby Township, Mich., Kevin Schaffel, Coral Springs, Fla., Antoine Saout of France, standout poker player Phil Ivey of Las Vegas and James Akenhead of London.

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Roethlisberger: Rape Claims “Outrageous”

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said a Nevada woman’s claims of sexual assault are “reckless” and “outrageous” and said he would fight the civil lawsuit filed in Washoe County. BenRoethlisberger

“I would never, ever force myself on a woman,” he said during a Steelers practice Thursday. 

Roethlisberger’s accuser, 31-year-old Andrea McNulty, also claimed she was pressured by Harrah’s co-workers to drop her case. 

The casino company denied those claims in a statement released to the Web site TMZ.com

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J.P. Losman to be Face of UFL Football in Las Vegas

It’s just J.P. Losman– he had a 62.3 quarterback rating last year, a statistic in which he’s actually managed to get worse with every year he’s been in the league — but, nevertheless, this could be a significant moment for the UFL and for Las Vegas.  Losman has put pen to paper and officially become a member of the Las Vegas franchise on a one-year contract. JPLosman

Unless Michael Vick signs, Losman is probably the UFL’s marquee player. That may sound sort of like being named the coolest guy camping out in line for Star Wars tickets, but everybody’s got to find a home somewhere. At the end of the day, J.P. Losman is still getting paid to play professional football, and that’s still pretty sweet. 

Jim Fassel, the coach in Vegas, seems pretty psyched about the move. 

“Listen, if he’d have went back to the NFL and sat on the bench this year, then he’d have been no better off next year. Whatever anybody thought about him, they’d still say the same thing. Nothing would’ve changed. Instead, you go in this league and you play. The risk you take is you don’t play well. But if you’re an aggressive person, you say ‘I’m going to play well, people are going to see me, and maybe I can erase some of those negatives that were in the past, and a lot of people will say, wow, look at him play now. He’s a new guy.'” 

The UFL’s inaugural season will last six games and conclude on Thanksgiving weekend. Say Losman plays well over those six games, and an NFL team is looking for someone to fill in for an injured or ineffective quarterback, then Losman could look pretty good, or at least less rusty than someone who’s been doing nothing since last season. 

And if Losman doesn’t play well, then he probably ends up sitting at home, unemployed, which would leave him exactly where he was when he started. So why not take a chance, get coached up by Jim Fassel, and learn by playing, rather than sitting?

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Dan Henderson Wins UFC Fight & Award, But Loses Car

Remember that sweet Range Rover that the UFC gave to Dan Henderson to thank him for coaching “The Ultimate Fighter?”  Henderson, who lives in Temecula, California was driving back home after UFC 100 and couldn’t even make it out of Nevada before the car broke down. Henderson sent a message to UFC president Dana White on his Web site saying, “Thanks for the car, Dana, hope it comes with a warranty!” DanHenderson

Henderson had a highlight reel win over British UFC star Michael Bisping on Saturday night, knocking Bisping out in the second round with a powerful right hand.  Henderson caused some controversy by following up the right with an additional punch when Bisping was on the ground before the referee stopped the fight. Afterward, Henderson said that the extra punch was to “shut Bisping up.” 

Prior to their bout, the two men coached on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and Bisping spent much of the show badmouthing Henderson.  

Edmunds, a Web site that reviews automobiles, claims that the British-born Range Rovers have a poor reputation for reliability, and that was proven true, at least with Henderson’s car. Henderson won the $100,000 Knockout of the Night bonus on Saturday; he should be able to buy himself another car. Or, perhaps he could use the bonus to waste some time at Whiskey Pete’s, the low-rent casino at the Nevada state border.   

UPDATE: Henderson reported that the Range Rover is back up and working, and he later drove it to the ESPY awards in Los Angeles, an hour and a half from Temecula.  Let’s hope that it can handle the drive home.

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Las Vegas World Series of Poker Impervious to Economic Woes

Once again, poker has seemingly proven impervious to these difficult times. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) “Stimulus Special” tournament in Las Vegas (with a lower-than-normal $1,000 buy-in) sold out, drawing 6,012 players. It was the fourth-largest field of all time, trailing only the main events in 2006 (8,773 players), 2008 (6,844) and 2007 (6,358). The winner was 24-year-old Steven Sung, who pocketed $771,106.

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Ultimate Fighting Championship More Than Human Cockfighting

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was once brashly branded by U.S. Senator John McCain as “human cockfighting” and the sport was scorned by many, even banned from television networks. 

Fast forward, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighting is now sanctioned in every state with an athletic commission, except New York. 

What was once a fledging sport trying to survive when it first appeared at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on the Las Vegas Strip in late September 2001, is a booming multibillion dollar industry. 

Las Vegas brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and a street-smart former boxing promoter named Dana White were riding the tide to something big back then– less than eight years later, the UFC staged the biggest, most lucrative event in its history: UFCs 100th contest last night at the Mandalay Bay. 

Tickets for Saturday night’s championship were snapped up in minutes, and some ringside seats sold on StubHub this week for $45,000 each. The UFC’s pay-per-view audience surpassed boxing and World Wrestling Entertainment for the first time in 2006. 

The pugilistic contest saw heavyweight champion Brock Lesna unmercifully pummel Las Vegas Frank Mir with staccato right hands in the second round and emerge victorious in the octagon, avenging his only prior professional loss, which came against Mir last year. UFC2

The sport has worldwide appeal and is experiencing unprecedented growth. The UFC organization has expanded to England and Germany, and is poised to take on France and Australia next. There is even an unquestionable fever for it in Canada, and a palpable sense of momentum for a company that just five years ago was more than $40 million in debt. 

“All the things going on right now, whether it’s UFC 100 or going to Germany for the first time, it’s really the way it’s been for us the last nine years,” White told The Associated Press recently. “The great thing about this sport, it transcends all cultural barriers, language barriers, because I don’t care what language you speak, what color you are, what country you’re from, at the end of the day we’re all human beings. Fighting is in our DNA.” 

The UFC began in 1993 as a tournament to crown the world’s best fighting style, featuring everything from boxers to a sumo wrestler. There were no weight classes, gloves or rounds. There was no judging and virtually no rules. The only way to win was by knocking out your opponent or making them quit, which is precisely what a scrawny jujitsu expert named Royce Gracie did. 

Dozens of states quickly enacted laws banning “no-holds-barred” fighting, abhorred by the thought of humans fighting inside an eight-sided cage. Even though limited rules and gloves were introduced, the organization stood on the brink of bankruptcy. 

That’s when White brought the concept to the Fertittas, a pair of casino executives he’d known since high school. They purchased the UFC for $2 million in 2001 and immediately went to work getting the sport sanctioned. Universal rules were put in place, allowing shows to be held for the first time in casinos in Nevada and New Jersey. 

“When we bought this company, especially my partners, they had a lot of people working for them and they thought this was probably the dumbest business investment ever,” says White, the UFC president. “We believed in it. We were passionate about the sport.” 

But passion only goes so far. By 2004, parent company Zuffa LLC still couldn’t climb out of the red. The Fertittas nearly gave up, and White frantically tried to secure funding to press on. 

Everything changed when the trio came up with “The Ultimate Fighter,” couching the sport in a reality TV format. The cable show was an instant hit, and the sport quickly began to slice into boxing’s fan base, which had long grown stagnant.

Stars like Las Vegans Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture were born, and an entire industry sprouted nearly over night. Nearly ever major event is now sold out, and a sport that corporate American once refused to touch has credibility with mainstream sponsors like Harley-Davidson and Budweiser. 

The new “UFC: Undisputed” video game sold a 1 million copies its first week.

“Having ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ was the thing that did it for us, live fighting on TV,” says Liddell, who was recently inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame. “That’s what we had to do, was get a live fight on TV. It couldn’t have worked out better.” 

Each of the Fertittas now own 45 percent of Zuffa LLC, while White owns 10 percent. Before the recession hit, the company was estimated to be worth close to $1 billion. 

Business advisory firm Applied Analysis in Las Vegas recently completed an economic impact study of the UFC on Las Vegas, which has been severely affected by the crumbling economy, and found it generated $86.2 million in nongaming revenue for six events held last year and early this year. 

White believes it’s his responsibility to safeguard a sport that he has grown and nurtured almost from the beginning, and has given him so much in return: financial security, a 7,500-square-foot home, worldwide attention. 

“Is it going to become stale, are people going to become tired of it? Hell no,” he says. “Is there too much football on TV? Is there too much baseball on TV? People want to see great fights, and if we put together the best fights with the best fighters in the world, this is going to continue to grow and grow and grow.”

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UFC 105 Likely To Be Held In Las Vegas

MMA Weekly is reporting that Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer confirmed that the UFC has requested the pre-Thanksgiving weekend date, November 21, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas for UFC 105.

The UFC had thoughts of having UFC 105 outside of Las Vegas with Boston, Toronto and New York being cities brought up to potentially host the event; however, adverse legislation of MMA in those cities has put those plans on the backburner.

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Professional Bull Riders Partner with Hard Rock in Las Vegas

The Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) announced a new partnership with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The partnership will bring two marquis events to Hard Rock’s brand-new venue, “The Joint,” a 4,000 seat entertainment facility which held its Grand Opening in April 2009. Hard Rock Hotel will also be the official host of PBR’s pre-event VIP Parties during the second weekend of the PBR World Finals. bullriding

As part of the new partnership, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will play host to PBR’s Next Round Drafts on Friday, October 30, and Thursday, November 5, where the top 40 bull riders will select which bull they will take on during the next round of competition. The hotel will also host two Official PBR After-Parties which will immediately follow the drafts. Both the drafts and After-Parties will be held at the “The Joint,” where legendary musical acts such as Santana, Paul McCartney, Kenny Chesney, and others have played.

PBR and Hard Rock will work together to prepare hotel package promotions for World Finals attendees. Premium “access” items such as special lines or seating areas at After-Parties, drink specials, Meet & Greets, autographed merchandise, and other benefits are being planned for those that choose to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel during their World Finals experience. 

The Hard Rock Hotel will also be the official host of VIP Pre-Parties during the second weekend of the World Finals. PBR’s VIP guests will be treated to entertainment and hospitality prior to each night’s performance and then shuttled to and from the hotel. The Hard Rock Hotel is located close to Thomas & Mack arena providing VIP guests with easy access to and from the venue. 

The 2009 Built Ford Tough World Finals will showcase the bull riding athletes on in Las Vegas as they vie for more than $3 million in prize money. For the sixth time in its 16-year history, the PBR World Finals will span two consecutive weekends, Oct. 30-Nov 1 and Nov. 5-8. This marquee event represents the crown jewel of bull riding and culminates the 31-city 2009 BFTS tour.

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Andre Agassi Laces His Tennis Shoes Once Again

Professional tennis player Andre Agassi says he’s through with laying around the house, so to speak- he wants to get back on the tennis courts.  AndreAgassi

After retiring following the 2006 U.S. Open, Agassi says his back is fine and he really misses playing competitive tennis.  Which is why, at age 39, the Las Vegan will return to the court this month and play a limited schedule in the World Team Tennis (WTT) league for the Philadelphia Freedoms. 

“It’s been a few years since I retired, and that’s been a little unsettling for me,” Agassi said.  “It took some time to try to figure out the best way to say connected to tennis, and that’s hasn’t been so easy. 

“But before I got too far away, I wanted to re-engage, and World Team Tennis seemed like the perfect opportunity.” 

Agassi is scheduled to play two matches for the Freedoms, the team owned by league founder and longtime friend Billie Jean King.  The first match is July 10 vs. Boston in Philadelphia, followed by a July 17 match at Newport Beach, California. 

Although his wife and former tennis star, Steffi Graf, will not play, several big-name tennis players have committed to playing in WTT this summer:  Venus and Serena Williams, John McEnroe, Michael Chang, Anna Kournikova, Kim Clijsters, Sam Querrery, and Mike and Bob Brian.

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Las Vegan Lady Cage Fighter Gina Carano Ready to Rumble

Las Vegas fighter Gina “Conviction” Carano is a 27-year old role model for female mixed martial arts fighters.  She’s a superstar with a perfect fighting record and a penchant for marketing herself, being named to Yahoo’s “Top 10 Most Influential Women” and Maxim’s Hot 100 list. GinaCarano

“One day, I’m going to look on back on it and be so proud because I know that women’s MMA is going to do nothing but get bigger from here on out,” says Carano. 

On August 15 she is having a title fight with Brazilian Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, headlining the Strikeforce tournament. Carano is undefeated (7-0), trying to make history by being Strikeforce’s first-ever 145-pound women’s title holder. 

“Cyborg” is no pushover– her record is 7-1, her first loss coming from her debut fight.  

As beautiful as she is dangerous, Carano, who is also famous for starring in the remake of the American Gladiators as “Crush,” will be in for the biggest test of her fighting life, carrying women’s MMA future on her back.

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702.tv Launches in Las Vegas

702.tv recently launched in Las Vegas its new Web and TV product from Greenspun Interactive.  “News never looked so good,” touts the tagline of 702.tv’s promotional ads, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the show’s non-traditional approach to news.

Rob Curley, president and editor of Greenspun Interactive, said the project is part of a challenge laid out to his team by Brian Greenspun, Curley’s boss and Las Vegas media mogul who owns the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Weekly, Greenspun Interactive, Vegas.com and a host of other properties in Sin City.

“If I were to try and tell you that this was built to save democracy, I’d be lying,” Curley said in a phone interview with Poynter. “We’re not trying to reinvent the news, we’re trying to go after an audience that doesn’t care about the news and trying to figure out how can we trick them into learning something. If we can reach that market and help our advertisers have success, we get to fund more journalism.”

To describe 702.tv to journalists (whom he emphatically emphasizes are not the target audience of the program), Curley has used the analogy of a bowl full of Skittles with a handful of vitamins mixed in; the show has a colorful, fun-loving format with a little bit of news that’s good for you.

The 30 minute, twice-weekly show airs on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 p.m. (PT) n VegasTV, a cable station that Greenspun has a major stake in. The show will also be distributed through multiple platforms — the Web, mobile devices and Apple TV.

The 702.tv team plans to go five days a week in the fall, with a potential lead-in from syndicated episodes of “The Office.” A staff of 11 produces the show with much of the content coming from local Web videos created from the company’s entertainment sites, including the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly. Curley said that generally a three-to-four minute package on the Web during the week ends up becoming a 90-second piece in a TV episode.

Curley said the new product will be marketed through ads and content promotion in the Greenspun family of publications, including two daily pages in the Las Vegas Sun devoted to sports and entertainment news, interactive billboards around Las Vegas, semi-monthly promotional parties and appearances on Las Vegas media outlets.

Curley admits 702.tv is in its early stage of development and is going to be constantly evolving. “The whole thing is a work in progress,” he said. “One of the things we learned out of Studio 55 is this sucker better evolve every day — and that means the broadcast piece and the Web piece.” 

The team is experimenting with new revenue models, including the use of “promotional partners” within the production to earn money. 702.tv hasn’t integrated any yet, but Curley said they will be clearly labeled and produced separately by Sun Media Productions (also a Greenspun business).

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Defy Death: Run to the Hottest Place on Earth!

Not all people enjoy eating Big Macs and have the body fat to show for it.  Some are very lean fighting machine specimens- and very thrill-seeking.  Take for example the 80 or so of the toughest athletes on the planet that compete in the annual Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race through Death Valley from July 13 through 15. DeathValley

It’s so hot the runners keep their running shoes stored in the freezer to prevent them from melting.  They train in saunas cranked up to 180 degrees.  And for good reason:  The temperatures during the race hit 130 degrees, runners traverse three mountain ranges, achieving a 13,000 vertical ascent and 4,700 feet of cumulate descent. 

Badwater, managed by AdventureCORPS, offers several extreme heat race opportunities in and around Death Valley.  But these races are definitely not for beginners and only the most extreme, heat-tolerant athletes receive an invitation. 

Southern Nevada is a great place to live if you’re of the extreme heat adventure persuasion.  It’s close enough to Death Valley for weekend training.  Valley of  Fire, which regularly records summer temperatures in the triple digits, is even closer. 

As an option for neophyte death defying runners that are not quite hardcore yet, Sierra Adventure Sports in Phoenix, Arizona offers their summer Extreme Heat races, which have been held for the past three years.

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UFC Fighter Randy Couture Scurries Back in the Cage

Las Vegan Randy “The Natural” Couture will meet Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 at the Rose Garden inRandyCouture Portland, Ore., on Aug. 29, the UFC confirmed. 

The 45-year-old Couture (16-7) has not fought since losing his heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 last November. 

The 33-year-old Nogueira (31-5-1) is coming off a loss to Frank Mir at UFC 92 in December.

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What do Las Vegans do when the thermometer hits 120 degrees? RUN!

Sounds crazy- but, then again, Las Vegans are the epitome of crazy.  

Running with the Devil (he owns a couple of foreclosed houses in Sin City) is exactly what a group of hardy – and deranged – athletes will do when they gather at Lake Mead National Recreation area in Boulder City, Nevada this Saturday for the Running of the Devil races. 

Starting and finishing at Boulder Beach, runners will compete in five distance options, with the longest being 50 miles, roughly a DOUBLE marathon.   It’s about an 11-hour race-  for those that survive. 

Participants are described by event organizers as athletes looking for a challenge that goes beyond a mere morning job through the neighborhood.  Really? 

Running with the Devil is all about facing the challenge of extreme heat.   Last year the temperature reached 112 degrees, and it hit 116 the year before.

 All those who finish the race alive will receive a medal.  So far, 45 people have signed up to run the 50 mile gauntlet. 

Some runners are using this race as a warm-up (?) for Badwater, a 135-mile run though Death Valley in California starting July 13, where the temperature can reach 125 degrees or higher, with the race taking up to 60 hours to complete.  Now, that’s endurance! 

Interested?  Check out www.calicoracing.com for more information.  You can register for the race on Friday at the Hacienda Hotel in Boulder City from 5 to 9  p.m., or on the day of the race at Boulder Beach.

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Las Vegas Makes Two Major Sports Announcements to Boost Local Economy

The Orleans Arena and parent company Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas announced on June 24 two major sporting announcements. 

First, the Orleans Arena will be the host for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships in 2011 and 2012, a major NCAA tournament.

 The 8,500-seat Orleans Arena became a leading college basketball venue in 2006 when it hosted the Las Vegas Invitational, featuring a showdown between defending national champions Florida and Kansas.  Since then, the Las Vegas Classic has become an annual event each December featuring top college basketball programs.  In March 2009, the Orleans Arena hosted the sold-out NCAA West Coast Conference Championships. 

The WAC decision two years in the making,  came down to two host cities, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, with the unanimous nod to select Las Vegas by coaches and WAC management.  

“It was the easiest and quickest decision we’ve made,” said Karl Benson, right, of the WAC, adding they want to become “long-term business partners with the Orleans.” 

The neutral site afforded by Las Vegas overweighed any issues and concerns related to gaming and alcohol.  

The WAC tournament will be played March 8-12, 2011 and March 6-10, 2012.  The conference’s eight members are Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State, and Utah State.

Tickets information will be provided at a later date. 

Adding even more team interest in Las Vegas, earlier this year the WAC announced plans to hold its 2009 Volleyball Tournament at the Orleans Arena November 23, 24 and 25. 

Further strengthening its reputation as one of Las Vegas’ leading sports and entertainment venues, the Orleans Arena also announced that it will host the Arena Football League 2’s ArenaCup 10 championship game on Saturday, August 22.  

With more than 25 teams competing in its 10th anniversary season, the Arena Football League 2 (af2) showcases fans-friendly football across the country having more than 200 regular-season and 15 post-season games scheduled.  The current season began on March 20. 

“We are excited to bring the ArenaCup to Las Vegas,” said af2 President Jerry Kurz, right. “Our owners saw the value in bringing our league’s showcase event to the biggest showcase city in the world.  Our fans will be treated to a unique, total entertainment experience from touchdown to takeoff.” 

The decision to select Las Vegas was a unanimous decision from all 25 league owners. 

Kurz might have also let the cat out of the bag, adding that they would like to have a team in Las Vegas and this championship game could be a precursor to that happening.  “We want to date before we get married,” said Kurz. 

With the Orleans Arena holding up to 7,100 fans for the championship game, tickets for ArenaCup 10 will go on sale July 10 at 10 a.m., priced from $17.50 to $60, said Orleans Arena Executive Director Davis. 

Ticket information is available by calling 702-284-7777 or visiting www.orleansarena.com

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Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Injured, Postpones Fight

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has damaged cartilage in his ribs and will stop training for his comeback fight until a doctor says he can resume. 

Promoter Richard Schaefer said that Mayweather has been in tremendous pain since suffering the injury during training last Thursday. 

Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), a Las Vegas resident, as previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access, was scheduled to fight Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs) on July 18 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. 

Schaefer said both fighters have committed to rescheduling and a September date has been mentioned. But promoters and the fighters won’t agree to a date without the OK of doctors.

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Herpes Killing Thousands of Nevada Fish

If your recreational entertainment involves catching and fishing for carp at Lake Mojave, you best think of another hobby quick.   Thousands of dead carp have been washing to shore since mid-May, and authorities have pinpointed the koi herpes virus as the likely dastardly culprit. 

Nevada Division of Wildlife is warning anglers to avoid taking or handling carp until the massive die-off ends, even though they also state that the virus reportedly poses no threat to humans, and the lake is safe for water recreation activity.  

It is not known how the virus was introduced to Lake Mojave and officials currently have no virus mitigation plan. 

“There unfortunately isn’t much we can do.  There is no vaccine.  There is no cure,” says John Joberg, supervising fisheries biologist for the Nevada Division of Wildlife.   He added that experts think the virus might run its course and die as the water temperature increases.

But, please…play it safe- don’t kiss the fish!

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Hockey Pros, Celebrities Skate to First NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas

Team sports businesses haven’t been exactly brimming with kindness to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.   Try as he might – bless his ever-loving, gin-drinking pickled heart – efforts to bring a pro major league team to Las Vegas throughout his tenure have not produced results.   Apparently, for now at least, the long established Las Vegas gambling brand doesn’t mix well with courting pro sports teams in the City of Entertainment. 

The good news, though, is that the National Hockey League will at be having their prestigious 2009 NHL Awards in Las Vegas and the NHL Players’ Association will also hold its annual North American summer meetings here around the awards show. NHLawards

It marks the first time the annual awards show is being held in Las Vegas, an event usually reserved for Toronto,  coinciding shortly after completion of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

For the Las Vegas Wranglers, a minor league hockey farm club of the Calgary Flames of the NHL, it will undoubtedly be a a dream come true to conveniently head down the Strip and perchance rub elbows with the best pro players in the game. 

In the twilight of the Las Vegas mayor’s last term, the biggest names in major league pro hockey will  assemble in Las Vegas on June 18 at 4 p.m. at The Pearl Concert Theater in George Maloof’s Palms Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, opting to briefly trade their rink ice for lots of ice to chill their drinks in the hot box of a town.   

For many Las Vegans, however, the event may be akin to witnessing a UFO experience of a different kind. Las Vegas denizens don’t bet on hockey games, let alone who is going to win the MVP Trophy or Coach of the Year. They have way to many other things to do these days- like worrying about their jobs and paying their mortgages. 

And, if you’re an Ordinary Joe, you’ll need to really dig deep in your tattered wallet to be a part of the history-making hoopla– attending will set you back $504 at least per seat. 

But, from most accounts, for those that are fortunate to attend (or go in hoc trying), it should be a pretty good bash, inasmuch as owner George Maloof knows a thing or two about sports and Las Vegas since he is the owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. 

“We are so thrilled to be the host of the 2009 NHL Awards,” Palms Owner George Maloof said in a statement. “Working with the National Hockey League in bringing this event to Las Vegas is something that will be great for our community.”

At the ceremony the league will announce top performers in a variety of categories including valuable player (Hart Trophy), outstanding goaltender (Vezina Trophy), outstanding defenseman (Norris Trophy), outstanding rookie (Calder Trophy), and best coach (Jack Adams Award).

To sweeten the attendance draw, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Robin Thicke and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Chaka Khan will perform, and Saturday Night Live bandleader Katreese Barnes will head up the NHL Awards house band.

Celebrity hockey-loving fans Snoop Dogg, Michael Buble, William Fichtner, Tricia Helfer, Lauren Holly, Colin Ferguson and others are scheduled to appear alongside such NHL stars as Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings, Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Blackhawks, Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers and many more planning to attend.

Past and present NHL stars are also scheduled to participate in the 2009 NHL Awards include Tony Esposito, Sergei Fedorov, Ron Francis, Doug Gilmour, Kelly Hrudey, Pat LaFontaine, Igor Larionov, Brian Leetch, Reggie Lemelin, Mark Messier, Stan Mikita, Andy Moog, Joe Nieuwendyk, Luc Robitaille and Jeremy Roenick.

Athough it’s the inaguaral event for the City of Entertainment, it will be more than a one-night stand for the City of Entertainment.  The NHL and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority (LVCVA) have inked a three-year agreement to continue to bring the NHL awards to the Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms Casino & Hotel.

The awards will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on high definition VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.  NHL.com will provide streaming Internet coverage of the red carpet arrivals.  The Canadian band Arkells will perform.

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O.J. Simpson Memorabilia Headed to Court, Online Auction Block

The footballs, jerseys and framed photographs that put O.J. Simpson in a Nevada prison are now in the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and then likely headed for the auction block.

Today, a court hearing dealing with the items confiscated from Simpson is scheduled in Santa Monica, California.

The items will most likely be auctioned on the Internet shortly to help satisfy a $33.5 million wrongful-death judgment against Simpson in 1997. 

Simpson’s attempt to retrieve the items by leading a handful of cohorts in a bungled stickup of memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas resulted in his being sentenced last year on armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges. 

Simpson is serving 9 to 33 years but on Monday he asked the Nevada Supreme Court to let him out of prison while it decides whether to overturn his conviction.

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Las Vegan Phil Ivey Wins Rare Seventh World Series of Poker Gold Bracelet

The 2009 World Series of Poker $2,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split / Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split champion is 32-year-old Las Vegan Phil Ivey. Ivey collected $220,538 for first place. He was also awarded his seventh WSOP gold bracelet. PhilIvey

Ivey now has 7 wins, 19 final table appearances, and 33 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.  Ivey currently has $3,439,386 in WSOP winnings. 

The Las Vegan is one of the rare poker players who excels at both tournaments and cash games, being nearly a mythological figure in the poker world that is unquestionably one of the game’s most enigmatic personalities. Considered by many to be one of the most publicity-shy poker star in the world, Ivey rarely gives out interviews or reveals much about his private life. Yet the further Ivey runs away from the spotlight, the more it seems to shine upon him. Ivey’s numerous wagering exploits have become part of the popular modern folklore, making it difficult at time to separate fact from fiction.   

Ivey routinely makes stratospheric-sized prop and sports bets. He reportedly bet $1 million on last year’s Super Bowl. He won. 

Ivey’s “poker office” was in the luxurious Trump Taj Mahal until the age of 24, when he moved to Las Vegas. He then started playing tournament poker and gradually attained superstar status.

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NASCAR Racer Kyle Busch: Enough Already!

Having a “Bad Boy” image, whether in sports, games, or Hollywood has become fashionably en vogue now.  Sporting antics and behaviors not of the squeaky-clean kind, if the truth be known, better sell tickets and some say help to develop sports dynasties- well, for awhile, at least.  Just look at the antics of pro footballer Terrell Owens, poker player Phil Hellmuth and, lest we forget, singer and pop princess Britney Spears. 

Las Vegas, not to be left out of the “elite” circle, boasts race car driver Kyle Busch, who just last Saturday smashed theKyleBusch champion’s “trophy” guitar after winning the Federated Auto Parts 300 in Gladeville, Tennessee.  Why you ask?  Reportedly, to share pieces of it with his team.  We kid you not. 

Mind you the guitar wasn’t a cheap knockoff.  Oh no, rather it was a unique, one-of-a-kind custom made Gibson Les Paul electric guitar adorned with artwork by the artist Sam Bass- it was one NASCAR’s most cherished trophies. 

Disrespecting the trophy and the artist is not a smashing good behavior example, definitely not befitting a role model for youth aspiring to be racers- and just plain good citizens. 

And, sadly, this is not the first incident that tarnished Kyle’s image, while also placing a pock mark on the venerable sport of auto racing. 

True, Las Vegan Kyle Busch is one of the world’s best racers right now.  But he’s also one of the most petulant teenagers on the track that’s not a teenager– he’s 24.   Hopefully, Kyle can now see fit to accept some “brotherly love” and ageless wisdom from his older brother, Kurt, who has matured in the past few years into one of the sport’s most eloquent spokesman. 

And the behavior modifications might just translate to a big payout.  While Kyle has won three Cup race to Kurt’s one this year, big bro is fifth in points with Kyle currently in ninth place.

Las Vegas Backstage Access readers, what say you?

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$1,000 World Series of Poker Buy-In Earns 24-Year-Old $771,106 in Las Vegas

Steven Sung, a 24-year-old resident of Torrance, California, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated with his parent to the United States 17 years ago, is a very determined poker player.  His true grit paid off. SteveSung

He didn’t like the way he played in the World Series of Poker’s Special Anniversary $40,000 buy-in, no-limit hold ‘em event in Las Vegas. 

Sung lost in the first day of competition. 

Undaunted, Sung, who has been playing poker professionally for three years, fought back his emotional funk and then ponied up $1,000 more to participate in the tournament’s “Stimulus Special,” a low buy-in, no-limit hold ‘em event that attracted 6,012 players. 

He played for over four days.  His efforts earned Sung his first World Series of Poker championship bracelet just before midnight on Wednesday at the Rio, pocketing $771,106. 

Sung has won $949,476 in his World Series of Poker career, with more than $2.3 million in career winnings through several poker tournaments. 

For now, Sung plans to on continuing to play in the World Series of Poker upcoming events, including the main event. 

The $1,000 buy-in event he won attracted the fourth-largest field of players in World Series of Poker history, trailing only the main event of 2006 (8,773 players), 2008 (6,844 players) and 2007 (6,358 players).

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Rare World Series of Poker Feat Pulled off by Las Vegan

Las Vegan Thang Luu, a 34-year-old Vietnam native who has been living in the United States for the past 17 years, has won the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low World Series of Poker (WSOP) event for the second year in a row.   Luu also finished second in the same event in 2007. ThangLuu

Luu raked in $263,135 for first place, the largest cash prize ever awarded in an Omaha High-Low tournament.  He defeated a field of 918 players over three days. 

The last time any poker player has finished first, first and second in the same event at WSOP was Johnny Chan’s accumulated record in the $10,000 buy-in Main Event in 1987-1989.  Chan won the titles the fist two years but finished runner-up to poker “bad boy” Phil Hellmuth in 1989.

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Babe Ruth Baseball Protégé — a Las Vegas Teen!

Bryce Harper is only a 16-years-old Las Vegas kid, but he plays baseball like he is already been a pro big leaguer for years. 

The phenomenal Las Vegas High School sophomore baseball player catches, pitches, hits monster home runs andBryceHarper turns baseball diamonds into his own playground.   His versatility of playing anywhere on the baseball field is what sets him apart from other players. 

Harper hit .626 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs this past season.  Forty-five of his 72 hits went for extra base.  He also stole 36 bases. 

And the home runs we’re talking about are of the towering 570-foot variety- and that started when he was just 15.  He doesn’t just throw at 96 mph, but has a killer curve ball and change-up as well. 

Harper is a one-man baseball team.   

While he is only 16, he’s projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 pro baseball draft, the first year he’ll be eligible. 

Harper announced that he has registeredat the College of Southern Nevada, where he plans to plans to play next season and get his GED to speed the pro baseball draft eligibility.

Now the whole world will learn what Southern Nevadans already know.  Harper is on the cover of the June 8 edition of Sports Illustrated.  Next to the picture of Harper taking a swing are the words “Chosen One.”   In slightly smaller print, the magazine proclaims Harper “The Most Exciting Prodigy Since LeBron (James of the Cleveland Cavaliers professional basketball team). 

Major league baseball teams from all around the country send so many scouts to the Las Vegas High School Wildcat games that, at times, it looks like a convention. 

Responding to this mounting recognition, Harper just takes it in his daily stride, calmly saying, “I just need to get better.”

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O.J. Simpsons ‘Buddy’ Clarence Stewart Files Legal Appeal

Just two days after O.J. Simpson’s legal team launched their appeal of his felony convictions, one of his co-conspirators, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, has filed his own appeal looking to overturn his Las Vegas conviction on kidnapping and armed robbery. ClarenceStewart

While former NFL great Simpson claimed prosecutorial misconduct, Stewart claims he was not given a fair trial due to “spillover prejudice” because he was not given a separate trial from Simpson. 

Stewart also claims that audio recordings should not have been allowed into evidence but after that, his request coat-tails off of Simpson’s complaint by alleging the same juror and prosecutorial misconduct. 

Clarence Stewart is currently serving 7 1/2 to 27 years in a Lovelock Prison in Nevada. 

The other four original defendants, Michael McClinton, Walter Alexander, Charles Cashmore and Charles Ehrlich, all pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony regarding Simpson’s September 2007 confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.  All four were given probation.

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Boxing Champ Mike Tyson’s Daughter Dies

The four-year-old daughter of heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson died Tuesday after an accident at home in Phoenix.  Tyson was in Las Vegas at the time and immediately flew back to Arizona. Mike Tyson

Exodus Tyson was playing near a workout treadmill on Monday when she somehow became entangled with a cord hanging from the machine.  Her seven-year-old brother reportedly found Exodus and told his mother who then called 911 and began administering first aid. 

Firefighters performed CPR and Exodus was taken to St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Centre where she was listed in critical condition.  Tuesday morning Exodus was removed from life support and subsequently died. 

In a statement released Tuesday, the Tyson family said: “There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus. We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal.” 

Condolences from Las Vegas Backstage Access to the Tyson family on the loss of Exodus Tyson.

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Red & Pink Gods Shine Down on Southern Nevada at Indy 500 Race

Victory was sweet today for Indy 500 racer Helio Castroneves.  Earlier in the week he faced down and won against the IRS in court, returned to Indy Car racing in a flash, won the pole position for the 2009 Indianapolis 500, and helped his Roger Penske teamates to a rousing victory in the pitstop competition.  Then, for the ultimate coup de grace, Castroneves went on to win today the 93rd Brickyard race by a 1.9819 second margin over runner-up Dan Wheldon and third-place finisher Danica Patrick on the 2.5-mile oval track. 

Castroneves is no doubt savoring the rare racing air, adding a third Indy 500 victory to his illustrious career, reaching a status that only eight other racers have reached.   And team owner Roger Penske is probably racing to another planet with the win being his fifteenth victory at the Speedway’s premier race. 

But let’s not lose sight of our good Southern Nevada performances in the race. 

Despite the race having five yellow flags and horrendous crashes, thirty-six year old Canadian Alex “Tag” Tagliani, who lives in Las Vegas, officially driving as a rookie for Conquest Racing in All Sport/Big Red car No. 36, achieved the honor of being the best-placing first-year man with his eleventh place finish.   

Tag has a long history of competition in the former CART series and was very fortunate to get the nod by Conquest to race, bumping fellow teammate Bruno Junqueira that really had the best qualifying time, but was not their prime racer. 

Talking at Saturday’s public press conference, Tagliani said, “I was so excited to drive that I didn’t really understand what I was missing by not being in the Indianapolis 500 race. Everything came along last year. Obviously, the two series merged, we have now just one open-wheel series. I finished the season with Conquest. That got me to run with them this year. When we arrived here in Indy, I definitely didn’t realize how big this race was.” 

Not to be outdone, fellow rookie Englishman Alex Lloyd, aka Pink Lloyd, racing the pink car No. 99 sponsored by HER (Healthy Energy Revitalizer, an energy drink for women) started in the middle of the fourth row with an impressive four-lap average qualifying speed of 222.622 mph, and went on to finish the race, finishing 13th. 

Lloyd’s car owner is Sam Schmidt from Henderson, Nevada. 

Only three other rookies finished this year’s Indy 500 race:  Tomas Scheckter, 12th place; Scott Sharp, 14th place; and Ryan Briscoe, 15th place. 

Both Tagliani and Lloyd finished ahead of many veteran race car drivers including A.J. Foyt IV and John Andretti. 

Thankfully, there were no serious injuries among drivers or crew in the race, although racer Vitor Meira was transported alert and awake to Indianapolis Methodist Hospital for further evaluation of back pain and released. 

The Indy Car series takes no break this week before returning to action this weekend at the famous Milwaukee Mile on June 1st.

(Prior Las Vegas Backstage Access articles on the Indy 500 race.)

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Indy 500 Features Las Vegan Alex Tagliani

Alex Tagliani didn’t really officially qualify for the Indianapolis 500 race, with a qualifying time four-hundredths of a second off the pace, being bumped out of the race by a faster car in the last turn of the last qualifying lap of the last qualifying session.  AlexTagliani

Athough Tagliani didn’t make the original field of 33 for the Indy 500, his Conquest Racing team put in a backup car driven by part-time teammate Bruno Junqueira, who joined the team a week ago, and qualified for the field with just a few laps of practice. 

So, since Tagliani is Conquest’s primary driver, he got the starting nod, bumping out Junqueria.  But Tagliani said both he and Junqueira should be in the race.  It was a fluke he didn’t make the field, said Tagliani.  He agreed the team made a bad call in pulling his car out of line. 

Tagliani moved to Las Vegas in 2000, with his Australian wife, Bronte, and own a $1.6 million condominium at One Queensridge Place in Summerlin.  

Tagliani, called ‘Tag’ by racers, has been racing cars since he could see over the steering wheel, but is considered a rookie at Indianapolis and is not predicted to finish in the money.

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Indy 500 in the Pink, Features Las Vegas Owner

SamSchmidtPink is the new red at the Indy 500 this year for an Indy race car owned by Sam Schmidt, right, of Henderson, Nevada. 

AlexLloydSchmidt’s driver for the pink car is an Englishman named Alex Lloyd, left, – aka Pink Lloyd – and the No. 99 HER car will start in the middle of the fourth row of the starting  grid with an impressive four-lap average qualifying speed of 222.622 mph. 

Pink isn’t a new to the venerable Brickyard.  In 1955 Bob Sweikert drove a pink car into victory lane.  Thirty years later, Emerson Fittipaldi, the two-time Indy winner, made his 599 debut in a pink car.  Recently, Jeff Ward drove an Aerosmith-sponsored car that was painted pink mostly to call attention to the rock band’s song of the same name. 

Schmidt, who has been coming to Indianapolis as a driver and car owner since 1996, said he never envisioned that Lloyd would qualify for the first day.  Nor did he anticipate the torrent of publicity the pink car would receive. 

The care was painted pink at the request of sponsor HER – Healthy Energy Revitalizer, an energy drink for women.  On race day, HER models will be strutting around the Gasoline Alley pits in skimpy pink uniforms in classic Las Vegas tradition that will make Lloyd’s look pale by comparison. 

Think Pink when watching the Indy 500.

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Boxer ‘King’ Floyd Mayweather Jr. Announces Ring Comeback

Unbeaten welterweight pro boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., once considered boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighterfloydmayweather when he retired in December 2007 after knocking out Ricky Hatton, said he’s coming back to take on Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18 at the MGM Grand Arena. 

Mayweather, a Las Vegas resident,  is undefeated at 39-0 with 25 knockouts. 

“The king is back!” Mayweather said.  “I’m here to fight and reclaim what is mine.” 

The scheduled 12-round slugfest will be held at the welterweight level with a 143-pound weight limit.

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World Series of Poker Prepares to Shuffle Up & Deal in Las Vegas

Despite the sour economy and Nevada gaming revenues being down almost 10 percent in 2008 and more than 16 percent down over the first two months of 2009, is apparently not an overriding concern for officials for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas who remain optimistic and confident that the variety and depth of the best poker playerspetereastgate in the world will be the draw needed for the 57-event WSOP tournament that begins its six-week run May 26 at The Rio, the host casino for the event. 

To sweeten the pot, a $40,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event on May 28 is expected to draw poker’s most elite players.  Then, two days later, the tournament will host a $1,000 buy-in no-limit event that is expected to attract another approximate 6,000 players. 

If that’s not enough draw, on May 31, a special two-day Champions Invitational will take place with the 27 living previous World Series of Poker world champions being invited to participate in a no-limit hold’em event. 

The 2009 World Series of Poker event will include 10 World Championship $10,000 buy-in events and seven $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournaments.  The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event, which mixes five different poker games, will take place on June 26.  The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold’em Main Event will being on July 3 and reach its final table of nine players on July 15. 

For the second straight year, players will then wait four months before returning to the Rio on November 7 to play for the championship, which ESPN will televise on a same-day taped delay.

Last year’s World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas drew 58,720 entries from 124 countries and awarded a prize pool of more than $180.7 million.  The winner in November was 22-year-old Peter Eastgate of Denmark, who became the tournament’s youngest-ever word champion, taking away $9.15 million in a four-hour heads-up final table with Russian Ivan Demidov.

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Down – and Out – Goes Boxer Ricky Hatton

Last night Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, a minus-290 favorite, delivered spot-on devastating left and right hooks to overwhelm and eventually TKO Britan’s Ricky Hatton with onemannypacquiaowin second remaining in Round 2 of their scheduled 12-round junior welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas before a sellout, bellowing, frothing-at-the-mouth crowd of 16,262. 

Pacquiao retained his pound-for-pound best boxer claim and improved his record to 49-3-2 with 37 knockouts.  Dominating the fight from the opening bell, Pacquiao established the right hook in the first 30 seconds, hammering away at Hatton, whose only answer was to hold and hit until finally succumbing to Pacquiao’s left hook to the chin knockout blow that reeled and crashed Hatton flat on his back to the canvas. 

Pacquiao earned $12 million for his smashing good looks and hooks;  Hatton got $8 million for his whooping.

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Boxing Match of the Year Moments Away in Las Vegas

The long-anticipated and sold out boxing match promoted as “The Battle of East and West,” pitting Filipino Mannyhattonpacquiao Pacquiao (48-3-2,  36 KOs) against Brit Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) will start at approximately 8 p.m. (PT) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. 

With the betting line Pacquiao minus 270, over/under 9 ½ rounds and tickets priced at $150 to $1,000, the slugfest royale will undoubtedly be one for the record books.  Hatton’s IBO and The Ring magazine junior welterweight championships will be at stake.  Some contend Hatton is one the best British fighters ever, comparing  him to Ted “Kid” Lewis, who won nine titles in multiple weight divisions after turning pro.  For Pacquiao, at stake is the claim to be boxing’s pound-for-pound title, having already won three major fights in three weight divisions last year. 

Closed-circuit viewing for $50 is available at Mandalay Bay, Mirage, TI, Monte Carlo, Circus Circus, Luxor, and New York-New York.  HBO is offering on Pay-Per-View for $49.95.

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UNLV’s Frank Summers Selected in NFL Draft by Pittsburgh Steelers

BREAKING NEWS- – The NFL Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers have just chosen UNLV running back Frank Summers in the 5th round of the NFL Draft. franksummers

Summers, nicknamed “The Tank,” is the first Rebel runner drafted since 1988 when Ickey Woods was the 31st pick to the Cincinatti Bengals.  Summers did not lose a fumble during his UNLV career and holds both the longest rushing score and longest receiving score records in UNLV history (2007).    

Named the “Toughest Player to Bring Down in the Mountain West Conference” in 2008, Summers selection by the Steelers didn’t come as a surprise to most analysts.  During the March Pro Day at UNLV, the Steelers had two scouts and a running back coach keeping track of Summers’ performance – including several pass-catching drills part-way through the workout.  And just a couple of weeks ago Summers flew out to Pittsburgh for an organizational meet and greet. 

Summers was the 169th pick in the current NFL draft and is expected to step in as a short-yardage specialist for the Steelers – a position previously held by Gary Russell and Jerome Bettis.

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Michael Phelps Swims Upstream for Miss California USA Carrie Prejean

Despite all the flap and fallout arising from Perez Hilton’s question and Miss California USA Carrie Prejean’s truthful carrieprejeananswer about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA Pageant on Sunday in Las Vegas, it appears that the record-breaking eight Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps is taking to the blond bombshell like a beached fish out of water. 

Seemingly not able to get enough of each other, they met last September at the Palms Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas and Phelps became instantly hooked with line and sinker when seeing her hook when the two played basketball in the Hardwood Suite at the Palms, according to Jon Gray, assistant to Palms owner George Maloof. 

Prejean, captain of her Vista (California) High School varsity basketball team, continues to clandestinely roll with Phelps and “he always calls her when he is in town and they go out,” says Prejean’s grandmother, Jeanette Copolla when recently talking with Radaronline.com 

A photograph of Prejean, with a drink in her hands, and smoke-loving Phelps, who looked like he just came off a 24-hour flight from China, appeared in Radaronline yesterday. 

Meanwhile, Phelps continues to bait yet another fish, Carolynn “Caz” Pal, a cocktail server at Moon nightclub in the Palms.

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Learn How to Use Your Fly in Las Vegas

It’s not what you think.  Actually, some say it’s better, more skillful.  The Nevada Department of Wildlife  (the other flyfishingvariety) will be having a free Introduction to Fly Fishing class on April 25 at the NDOW Las Vegas office and the Floyd Lamb Park in Las Vegas. 

The classes will cover basics such as knot tying, terminology and the equipment needed to fly fish, along with casting skills. 

There is also another fly-tying workshop on April 28. 

For more information and registration contact Ivy Santee at 702-486-5127, ext. 3503.

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NASCAR Award Ceremonies Planned for Las Vegas

Although some minor details need to be ironed out, it’s almost a done deal that Las Vegas will be the new home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup banquet, awards ceremonies and postseason celebrations in the first week of December, most likely December 4. nascarawards

The event honors the top 10 NASCAR drivers from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. 

A major event acquisition coup for Las Vegas,  for the past 27 years the prestigious event was held in New York City. 

Planning has been in the works for the past two years by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) president Rossi Ralenkotter and his team.  Speedway Motorsports Inc., owner of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has lobbied for the event. 

The LVCVA would reportedly pay NASCAR between $500,000 and $1 million for each year of the contract, which may be for three to five years. 

NASCAR would be the second major professional sport to shift its awards ceremony to Las Vegas this year.  Ralenkotter negotiated a three-year deal to bring the NHL awards to the Palms Casino & Hotel on June 18.

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Rock ‘N Roll Double-Header Tour Heading to Las Vegas?

This summer, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams will give the phrase “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” a whole new meaning def-leppardas they co-headline a nationwide Rock ‘N Roll Double-Header Tour. Teaming up for the first time, two of the most popular rock acts to ever take the stage are slated to perform at 26 minor league baseball stadiums around the country, starting on June 1 when they travel to Portland, Oregon, home of the Beavers.

Bryan Adams and Def Leppard, combined, have sold more than 100,000,000 albums worldwide. Each made their album debut in 1980 — and 25 years later they are still hitting performance homeruns. Only five rock groups can claim two original albums selling 10,000,000 plus copies each in the U.S.: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen and Def Leppard. 

However, not seeing the Las Vegas 51s, our 27-year-old Triple-A minor league baseball franchise team that plays at Cashman Field, on the concert tour list, Las Vegas Backstage Access is checking with Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions to see if they’ve simply flubbed up.  

Or could it just be that Derek Stevens, CEO of the Stevens Baseball Group, who bought the franchise from Mandalay Baseball Properties in 2008 has other plans for his team this season?

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Las Vegas Mob’s ‘Cement Shoes’ Now Concrete Canoes?

The mob has been doing much less ‘planting’ nowadays.  And with the many stalled and failed casino construction projects dotting the Las Vegas landscape brought on by an ever constricting economy, it’s no secret that Las Vegas has a ton – maybe two? – of ready and willing concrete at its disposal. 

Grabbing this weighty waste opportunity, UNLV engineering students have built and are planning to race a buoyant unlvcanoeconcrete canoe in the fiercely competitive 2009 National ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on June 11-13.

But first they must clear the regional competition hurdle, finishing in the top five in competitions set from April 1 through 4 in Hawaii. About 20 teams are competing. 

To win it will take equal parts of technical skill, creativity and determination. 

Created from a year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears, the slippery smooth, svelte 250-pound black, blue, and white canoe with a UNLV mosaic on the bottom, and the name Kiss Our Glass on the side, was engineered to be a precise 20 feet long and 30 inches wide. It has to be made that precise.  That’s the rules. 

The races, endurance, sprint, and slalom combined, count for 25 percent of the overall score. The remaining 75 percent is based equally on a submitted technical design paper that highlights the planning, development, testing and construction of the team’s canoe; a formal oral presentation, in which the team has to detail their canoe’s design, construction, racing ability and other innovative features, as well as defend their choices to the judges during a question and answer session; and the end product-the final racing canoe and project display, which is scored on aesthetics and visual presentation. 

Tiffany Hearn, 22, the senior engineering student and captain of the UNLV canoe-building team, haunchos the seven-member team of other UNLV engineering students that are trying to field a winning canoe. 

Engineering students at UNLV and all over the country do this every year. They enter local and regional competitions. A national champion is declared.  Last year the University of Nevada, Reno won.  

UNLV has never made it past the regional competition.  Last year they came in 11th place, their best finish yet. Maybe a win is in their cards this year. Maybe it isn’t.  That’s not the point. 

“This is a big project that takes months to complete. They have to be able to work as a team,” said Bill Culbreth, an associate dean in UNLV’s college of engineering. “Most engineering projects will work that way.” 

So it is that the national concrete canoe competition is more than a boat-building contest. It’s a metaphor for the real world — where there is not nor will there ever be a market for boats made of sand, glue and water. 

Noe Santos, 21, the team member most responsible for figuring out how to make this particular blend of concrete, doesn’t even plan on working in that area after he graduates in May. He’ll be doing research on solar cells. 

In the meantime, he and the rest of the UNLV team have spent at least 40 hours every week since May working on this canoe. “No Christmas vacation. No Valentine’s. No anything,” Hearn said. 

Santos further explained that you can’t use just any old concrete – and, no, they didn’t use our scrap casino concrete – to make a canoe that actually works. The competition’s rules say the canoe must float back to the surface after being submerged. UNLV has never done well on that test. 

The secret to the team’s confidence this year is the concrete concoction, which weighs in at 54 pounds per cubic foot, about 8 pounds lighter than water. 

The concrete, lined with a carbon fiber reinforcing mesh and with tiny metal cables, is then blended with tiny glass bubbles and hollow glass beads about the size of ice cream sprinkles so the concrete has little air pockets inside. 

In the past, UNLV’s teams have blended the concrete with rocks. They’ve had hits and misses, a couple of times suffering competition-ending catastrophic failures; the boats broke in half. 

But not this year, the team members say. 

The team took their boat out to a man-made lake at Desert Shores on March 14. They rowed in it. They sank it.  But the good news it that it came right back up. 

To work on their speed, team members have been practicing twice a week in a traditional fiberglass canoe. They’re getting pretty fast. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access hopes the UNLV team is just fast enough- taking home their first win!

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March Madness Translates into Las Vegas Happiness?

It used to be that the Super Bowl was the zenith of all sporting events for Las Vegas marchmadnesssportsbooks.  However this winter’s celebration of the professional athlete is finding a fierce challenger in the March playoff celebration of collegiate basketball. 

Over the last 20 years there has been a steady increase in the number of visitors booking rooms in Las Vegas during March Madness.  In 2008, February basketball betting was $116.7 million compared to $238.9 million in March, more than doubling the money wagered in Nevada casinos.   

Will this trend continue this year?  Can March Madness help boost the Vegas economy yet one more time? 

The answer for right now seems to be – yes and a guarded yes.  Major Las Vegas sports books at Caesars, Mirage and the Hilton reported late last week that more men than last year showed up for the start of March Madness, while taking the time to lounge in comfy chairs, and more importantly for the Las Vegas economy, drink and eat. 

Though this year’s Las Vegas sports books are taking in a greater number of bets, both men and women are betting fewer dollars per wager- so far.  

“I’m pleasantly surprised in light of the economy,” said a beaming Jim Pedulla, director of Caesars’ race and sports book.  He arrived to work last Thursday and had to immediately find an extra 160 seats for the more than 1,000 people who packed his book by 5:30 a.m. 

While great hotel and restaurant deals in Las Vegas are abundantly available both on and off the Strip, all the Las Vegas hotel sports books are definitely bustling with the brisk post-St. Patrick Day-pre-Spring Break-currently-celebrating March Madness crowds. 

Will this bristling activity be eventually translated into happy – not maddening – Las Vegas revenues?

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Atlatl Throwing Anyone?

The Valley of Fire State Park, located about 15 miles north of Las Vegas, is known for its vibrant red sandstone atlatllandscape with a variety of rock formations including natural arches.  But for real special treat on March 27 through 29 The World Atlatl Association is having a atlatl contest there where you can watch serious competitors and amateurs try their hand and muscle with the ancient weapon- a simple stick cleverly designed to hurl a spear with great force – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the Atlatl Rock Picnic Area in the Valley of Fire.  

The park entrance fee is $6 per vehicle.  For more information, call 702-397-2088 or http://parks.nv.gov/vf.htm  Don’t forget your camera.

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Las Vegas Native Kyle Busch Wins NASCAR Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

For any athlete it’s a dream come true when they have a major win in their hometown.  On Sunday the dream came true for 23-year-old NASCAR racer and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch when he celebrated his first win in six career Sprint Cup starts at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, racing to victory in his Toyota No. 18, sponsored by M&M’s. 

Busch performed his feat with gusto and racing mastery.  Racing before a near capacity 140,000 fervent fans at the speedway, he started deeper in the 43-car field than any of the event’s previous 12 winners. 

“I tell you what, this is pretty cool,” the Durango High School graduate said.  “I don’t exactly what it would mean but coming to the checkered flag, there were knots in my stomach.  It’s bigger than winning the Daytona 500.” 

After winning the race, Busch kneeled at the finishing line and kissed the track.

 It was Busch’s first Cup win of the season, and the 12th in 153 races.

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Las Vegas NASCAR Weekend, Meet the Drivers & More at Stratosphere

The Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas is featuring a full line up of NASCAR weekend activities from February 26 through March 1 including raffle drawings, show cars, race simulators, and drink specials.nascar2
 
From Thursday, February, 26 through Saturday, February 28, the Stratosphere will hold casino drawings for NASCAR and Coca-Cola merchandise including autographed helmets, BBQ grills and apparel. Participants may earn tickets from 7 a.m. Thursday, February 26 through 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 28.
 
The drawing schedule is Thursday, February 26 at 3:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday, February 27 at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, February 28 at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. All drawings will take place on the casino floor.
 
Then on Friday, February 27 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in front of Rudy’s Inc. on the Stratosphere casino floor you can meet and greet NASCAR drivers, getting autographs from Hermie Sadler, Scott Wimmer, Todd Bodine, Kenny Hendrick, Reagan Smith, Jeff Green, David Green, Terry Cook, Eric McClure, Dexter Bean, Scott Riggs, Dave Blaney, Casey Atwood, and Kirk Shelmerdine. 

On Saturday, February 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. the iRacing.com racing simulator will be outside the front entrance to the Stratosphere.
 
The Stratosphere is located at 2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South. For information, call 702-380-7777.

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NASCAR Roars into Las Vegas

NASCAR weekend in Las Vegas is almost here!  The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is known as a complete racing nascarcomplex with road courses, a 3/8 mile oval, dirt track and drag racing facilities.  The fans will be there once again on Saturday, February 28 for the Nationwide Series Sam’s Town 300 and on Sunday March 1 for the NASCAR Cup Series Shelby 427. 

The NASCAR Cup series has been making a yearly appearance at the Speedway since 1998 when Mark Martin took home the trophy.    The winners list from past years includes Jeff Gordon, Sterling Marlin and Jimmie Johnson as well as Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth – who have both won two Cup races in Las Vegas. 

Local police have warned all race fans to avoid driving to the Speedway via I-15 due to construction.  The DOT road widening project is expected to only further complicate the normally hectic traffic.   To avoid the weekend traffic jam, try attending the Las Vegas Super Sprint Classic held on the Dirt Track on Wednesday February 25 or the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and Bullring Bombers event on Thursday, February 26.

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Snow Skiing in Las Vegas?

Yes, it’s true.  Granted, it’s not the Vail or Aspen Colorado variety, but Las Vegas usually receives a good sprinkling of the white fluffy stuff each year, showing it off on the nearby snow-capped Charleston Peaks. snow

In the last couple of months, snow has made a rare appearance, sprinkling its way down to the Las Vegas valley floor for days, snarling traffic for hours for some, and providing a new photo op for others.   And for one day the local schools were even closed. 

The only developed ski facility in Southern Nevada is the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort in Las Vegas, which lies in the Spring Mountain National Recreations Area, located about 45 minutes from downtown Las Vegas.  Skiers can ski all day and then either stay there at the Charleston Hotel and Resort, or the Mount Charleston Lodge, or just choose to head back to Las Vegas to take in a Las Vegas show or try their luck on the gaming tables and slots. 

In addition to its café and bar, the 8,300-foot-level recreation area base boasts a sports shop, equipment rentals, and instruction for skiers and snowboarders.  The ski area offers two double chair lifts and many ski trails from the top of the lifts at nearly 9,400 feet.  Compared to many ski venues, the price for lift tickets is a steal of a bargain:  All day lift tickets are $50; for senior citizen and children the cost is $30. 

For an added adventure treat, Las Vegas Carriages provides a horse-drawn sled ride through the pines in the crisp winter air.  The rides load up from behind the Mount Charleston Lodge on weekends and last about 20 minutes.  Cost is $25 for adults and $15 for children (702-596-6715).

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models Prove Life Exists After Football

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ModelsThe NFL football season is history.  But that doesn’t mean excitement needs to be put on hold. Oh my gosh, no.  The folks over at Sports Illustrated were creatively up to the challenge, responding by providing the ultimate in eye-popping candy when 19 swimsuit models arrived in stunning fashion at LAX nightclub in the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Thursday, February 12, to launch their new promotion for the much awaited 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.  

The event marks the first time the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model team decided to make Las Vegas their destination promotion site.  Earlier in the week they were in New York.  The models arrived in grand style aboard “SI One,” a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, which was completely wrapped in Sports Illustrated swimsuit imagery- something unique to no doubt soothe weary pilots’ eyes as they fly the airways.  This is also the first time that Southwest Airlines has wrapped a plane in virtually nose-to-tail imagery. sportsillusplane

Although the Sports Illustrated 46th swimsuit edition is now available on newsstands, Las Vegas Backstage Access thought you might want to see a quick teaser flash slideshow of the 19 models arriving on the red carpet at LAX. (please click on underlined words to view show; view their names by clicking on captions button in lower right).  Our professional photographers have assembled a quick exclusive glimpse of the beauties.  Included is cover girl Bar Refaeli (pictured in this article), the girlfriend of actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brooklyn Decker, fiancée to Andy Roddick.  Six-time Grammy award-winning recording artist John Legend performed at LAX for attendees. 

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit franchise reaches more than 66 million satisfied adults annually in over 10 countries including China, Czech Republic, Greece, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, and Taiwan.  

Approximately one in three Americans over the age of 18 “read” the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model edition.

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‘Scale the Strat’… Las Vegas’ Ironman?

Pike’s Peak has their racing car climb.  And people are always climbing this or that in search of some new record. stratosphereNow, not to be outdone, Las Vegas offers THE competitive event for the fearless and definitely not the light of heart: “Scale the Strat”  

Over 400 people are expected to compete in a 108-floor vertical ascent, climbing up the 1,445 steps inside the Stratosphere.  It is not recommended for the average couch potato or acrophobic.  The first 26 flights of stairs are configured like a typical stairwell, but the upper flights are suspended inside the middle of a hollow tower with open air on each side.  

The top 50 athlete climbers with the fastest times on Friday morning, February 20.   Then they will do it all over again the next morning, Saturday, for top awards, psychic satisfaction- and psychiatric evaluations.  

In addition to the hearty competition there will be plenty of food, cocktails, and entertainment. 

Proceeds from Scale the Strat will help support the many life-saving programs of the American Lung Association of Nevada. 

For more details, call 702-431-6333 or visit http://www.scalethestrat.com

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Pinball Wizards Unite

If you like playing pinball, then get ready for some entertaining action.  The Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club has pinballrecently purchased the retail building at 1610 E. Tropicana Ave. in Las Vegas, from a private seller for $1.24 million.

The 7,416-square-foot freestanding building was built in 1995. The new owner says he plans to operate a museum consisting of pinball machines that have been refurbished. The Las Vegas Pinball Collectors club donates all profits to the Salvation Army.

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Arrows Fly in Las Vegas

Although not arriving inside wooden horses, archers from around the world will convene at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.  They are the hosts for the first leg of the 2009 Three-Star Tour of the National Field Archery Association archery(NFAA) on February 6 -8.  

The archery competition has an award payout of $165,000. 

Archers who participate in all three tournaments – World Archery Festival, NFAA Indoor Championship (Louisville, Kentucky) and the First Dakota Bank Archery Classic (Yankton, South Dakota) – will earn an opportunity to ‘shoot off’ for a new Pontiac Sports Coupe. 

During the three-day Las Vegas event, attendees will be able to visit the world Archery Festival Trade Show where they can learn about the latest equipment available in the archery industry.

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Sports Illustrated’s First Model Strip Preview

February is a month that offers something for everyone.  Historical celebrations, groundhogs in top hats, romance and roses, and if none of that appeals to you – how about the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue?  sportsillustrated

Since 1964 February has been the month when men wait by their mailboxes to peruse the latest high fashion poses from the world’s most beautiful women.  Models yearn for the opportunity to pose in Sports Illustrated as it traditionally provides their entry ticket into supermodel status.  To support the yearly launch, there’s been an HBO special, video’s and CD’s, a reality TV model search and countless calendars.  And to introduce the 2009 edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, now there’s a first ever personal appearance launch party planned.

Southwest Airlines will cover and wrap one of its Boeing 737-700 jets with art that celebrates the 2009 swimsuit edition.

And very early on February 12  they will fly between several and a half dozen of the magazine models from New York to Las Vegas for a series of opening events to be held in Las Vegas. 

Stop by later this week and read our Las Vegas Backstage Access blog for a list of the models and the local public celebrations that will kick-off the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

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Las Vegas Sports Books Favor Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by 6 ½ to 7 points over the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII arizonacardinalscontest at Tampa, Florida.  Most of the early wagering at Las Vegas sports books has been for the underdog Cardinals. 

Wynn Las Vegas has the Steelers has a 7-point favorite. The Las Vegas Hilton has moved the line to 6 ½ and minus- 110.   Lucky’s sports books lowered Pittsburgh’s money-line price to minus-215 and, to attempt to dramatically boost the Super Bowl handle, posted about 165 proposition bets at seven sports books. 

The ‘dog is definitely receiving the lion’s share of wagering action. 

But there is no speculation about the Cardinals-Steelers matchup drawing a much needed $100 million revenue haul for Nevada.  

A Super Bowl-record $94.5 million was wagered in Nevada in 2006, when the Steelers upended the Seahawks, 21-10.  Nevada’s total wagering for last year’s game was $92.1 million.

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UFC Blood Fest in Las Vegas on Saturday

Preparation is a key for success- even for sedentary beer-hoisting football fans.  You might want to consider pre-ufcgame practice for the hard-pounding gridiron action by watching on Saturday night, January 31, at 4:15 p.m. the UFC premiere fight between warriors BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre.  The duo will be smack-talking and raising their fists and feet for what will surely be an Octagon butt-kicking Blood Fest at UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Garden arena.  

And if you can’t make it down the MGM Grand, you might consider heading down to the Hawaiian Tropic Zone in the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood Resort.  They’re offering a fight special to watch the UFC  action on a big screen for $25 admission, with a minimum of $40 for food and beverage. 

Nevada, retaining the “lucky” persona rubric, is fortunate to host this contest. Many states, like New York, outlaw UFC fights.  

Some sports writers are predicting the Penn-St. Pierre match will be the biggest UFC fight ever.

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Las Vegas is THE Place for Super Bowl Partying

superbowlThere is no better place to take in all the football gridiron action this Sunday at Super Bowl XLIII then to watch and join in on the many parties in sunny Las Vegas.   There are lots of options to choose among before the kickoff between the Arizona Cardinals and the favorite Pittsburg Steelers.  (But for a championship game like this you can throw out favoritism, as anything can, and usually does, happen.)

Action kicks off not on game day Sunday, but Saturday when Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, who led the Raiders to a Super Bowl XI victory in 1977, and Jim Plunkett, who led the Raiders to two Super Bowl victories in the ’80s, will be on hand to greet and mingle with fans at the Sportsbook Bar and Grill at The Palazzo.   

Then, Notre Dame football legend and motivational speaker Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger will be appearing at the Orleans on Saturday, Jan. 31.

The Las Vegas Hilton plans to offer Super Bowl viewing on many 25-foot HD TVs using their state-of-the-art sound system at the Hilton Theater.
 
Not to be outdone, the Rockhouse Bar & Nightclub will host the game with a 100-ounce super-yards mega-cocktail. 

The New York-New York Casino will offer many delectable foods while having game action show on 165 televisions placed throughout the ESPN Zone restaurant.

After the victor is declared, there will many Las Vegas hotspots entertaining until the wee hours of the morning.   The new Encore will have partying going all hours in their new XS nightclub, as will non-stop action at the LAX at the Luxor, Pure nightclub, and the Rain nightclub at the Palms. 

Also, at the Palms rocker Bret Michaels and his “Rock of Love” girls will have an 8 p.m. performance at the Pearl. 

 

For a little comedy infusion after the game, consider attending the “Improv All Stars” showcase at MGM Grand.  Jerry Sienfeld, Drew Carey, and a host of top name entertainers will be on hand for their Super Bowl of Comedy.

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Las Vegas Bets – Prays – On Holding Winning Super Bowl Ticket

Despite our continuing gut-curdling economic crisis, through it all, Las Vegas sports betting operations have bettingremained strong, resilient, and, some say, even recession-proof. It remains one of our few local business saviors.  Gaming wagering profits accruing from the Super Bowl plays a crucial and pivotal role in our continued success. 

Last year’s hotly contested forty-second Super Bowl match up between the New York Giants and New England Patriots lost $2.6 million when pooling the net results accruing the from the total $92.1 million wagered at Nevada’s 174 sports books.  Ely Manning’s Giants, who closed wagering as 12-point underdogs, managed to upset Tom Brady’s Patriots, 17-3.  

But that was only the second time in 18 years that Nevada sports books lost on Super Bowl wagering. 

Looking back just a year earlier, a Super Bowl 2006 record draw of $94.5 million was wagered in Nevada, when the Pittsburgh Steelers were the victors against the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10. 

pittsburgsteelersEven with our nation’s economic collapse, this year’s February 1 contest at Tampa, Florida between the debutante, Cinderella-team Arizona Cardinals and the 900-lb gorilla on the block, Pittsburgh Steelers (six Super Bowls, with five wins) has, and is, drawing strong bettor interest.  Will David – reincarnated as the Cardinal’s Kurt Warner, with two Super Bowls and one win as a St. Louis Ram quarterback under his belt, pull off the ultimate coup and slay the Pittsburgh Goliath? 

The Steelers start as a 7-point favorite from most Las Vegas gaming venues and oddsmakers.  But most analysts this year doubt they will write over $100 million.  MGM Mirage sports book director Jay Rood, mirroring the majority sentiment of his peers, anticipates more wagering support for the Steelers, adding the take when all is done and said will probably fall somewhere between $85 million and $95 million.  

Hoping to dramatically boost this year’s gaming revenues, many gaming analysts predict a dramatic rise in the team, game, and player “prop” (proposition wagers) offerings.  They are rolling out many of enticing wager opportunities, ranging from the common, to the offbeat:  Will either team score three consecutive times without the other team scoring?  Will either team score in the final two minutes of the first half?  Or one can bet on Kurt Warner’s and Ben Roethlisberger’s pass attempts and passing yards.  And bettors can lay their money down on Edgerrin James’ and Willie Parker’s rushing yards.  

Is Las Vegas sports betting really recession-proof?  Many hopes and dreams – Las Vegas’ very economic survival – are riding high on this year’s Super Bowl revenue results.

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