Monday, May 21, 2007

Vegas and the NBA

Vacation in Vegas:

Well folks, for those of you who actually missed my updates last week, I was on a much needed vacation out in the fantasy land known as Las Vegas. My wife was there on business and I was out there so we could spend our second anniversary together.

First off, observations on Las Vegas. The place is just a total and utter fantasy land. Not only are there the lights, the glitz, the glamour, and all of that fun stuff, but there is just so much more and it all has to do with the people there.

At 4:00 in the morning on Monday, I saw five Elvis impersonators playing the evil game of three card poker. Thankfully I was only watching as I would have lost my shirt, but it was interesting seeing these guys play while trying to get out of character. When I got done watching them, I did some meandering and found there were a ton of people playing that early in the morning. One guy had been drinking since birth and had a bottle of champagne that he was drinking from. Finally, some kind waitress brought him a glass which with a belch, he declined.

Now, here is what was really interesting. While I was watching another game, I randomly asked the dealer what NBA All-Star Weekend in Vegas was like. She said, "Oh, the media didn't report things correctly--It was much worse." She then went on to tell me the horror stories of waitresses and dealers being physically assaulted, casinos closing due to the mayhem, fights breaking out, and pure overall chaos. Her final words to me were, "If this town ever holds another All-Star game, I won't work. I have the vacation time, I will take the week off. It was awful."

Being the reporter that I am, I couldn't let this one go. So, as I couldn't sleep anyway, I asked another random waitress the same question, and she gave me the same answer saying, "It was horrible. I have never seen it so bad in this town before." She went on to say that she believes there is a coverup being orchestrated by the City of Las Vegas. The reason being is the mayor wants an NBA team there so bad that he is willing to do just about anything to make it happen.

The stories of the utter mayhem of All-Star Weekend continued when I went over to the New York/New York to do a spot on WCAT's new weekly show. One pit boss told me there were two gang fights inside of the casino with guns drawn, and that there were 20 reported rapes that weekend alone. Some local reports said crime went up 80 percent that weekend alone. These stories continued all week. Female employees at one establishment were told not to come into work for their own safety; the ones who did work needed armed escorts to their cars because they were afraid for their safety. Out of the 14 casino employees I spoke with, all of them said they would never work if the All-Star game came back to Las Vegas.

In talking with these employees, I asked them what they thought of an NBA team actually coming to the city. All of them said they think it is a bad idea, and not just because of the problems that occurred over All-Star Weekend. The problem they said is that the average fan in Las Vegas would not be able to afford to go to games. Their thought, and I agree with them is the casinos would buy up all of the tickets and give them to the high rollers. The team would of course know they could charge high prices because of this, therefore normal fans just would not be able to go to games. Another factor is that in order for the NBA to come to Las Vegas, not just the Vegas franchise would have to be pulled from the betting lines, but so would the entire league. From what I have been told, and it has not been confirmed by the NBA, this is something the NBA will not budge on.

I have not been able to reach the NBA, or the City of Las Vegas for comment on these allegations. If any of this proves to be true, there is a serious problem here. Does the mayor want a team in the city so bad that he is willing to encourage a cover up by the casinos as to what really happened? With the NBA's dwindling reputation among fans, is the reward greater than the financial and other risks? The other question I have is if this was just an isolated type of incident? Will the same problems occur if a Las Vegas team is playing a regular 41 game home schedule, or did all of this happen because of the fact is was All-Star Weekend? It should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

1 comment:

The Sweeper said...

Ah..Yes...I can see it now...

"...And I'm Chris Fells..Welcome to 60 Minutes"

Glad you enjoyed your vacation. Welcome back. Time to blow the lid off this. Would be intersting to see if the NBA had any comment...