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December 21, 2014

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Oscar Goodman is eager to pass the puck with the Wranglers at the Plaza

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Christopher DeVargas

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and former Mayor Oscar Goodman wave to the crowd during the 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, Monday Jan. 20, 2014.

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A capacity crowd of 7,786 fans cheered on the hometown Las Vegas Wranglers as they played the Ontario Reign at Orleans Arena on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.

Not long ago, when Las Vegas ambassador and restaurateur Oscar Goodman was our city’s mayor, he doggedly pursued a major-league sports franchise for our city.

Obviously that never worked out, at least not yet, and Goodman has long said falling short of that objective was one of his few failures over his three terms in office.

Today, Goodman is in business downtown with the Plaza (try the veal!) and in an odd twist of events is tacitly connected to a pro sports franchise — the minor-league Las Vegas Wranglers.

Consequently, Goodman is applauding minor-league sports in Vegas.

“The Wranglers are a great thing for downtown and great for the Plaza,” Goodman said in a phone chat Tuesday afternoon. “A lot of people would have been very upset to see them leave. They would have been sorely missed, and we have to keep the Wranglers here until which time that we have an NHL team here.”

There’s the qualifier. Goodman is still convinced that an NHL and NBA team will play in Las Vegas someday. Current Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who has stepped in for her husband in a public-service shift change, is now trying to make a major-league sports team in Vegas a reality.

“Whichever arena is built will house an NBA team and an NHL team,” Goodman said, referring to dueling projects by MGM Resorts on the Strip and Cordish Companies at Symphony Park. “I honestly believe that.”

If that were to happen, the minor-league team — in this instance, the Wranglers — would not co-exist in Las Vegas with an NHL team.

“When a major-league team comes in, the minor-league team would move out,” Goodman said. “That’s how it works.”

But the Wranglers intend to be in Las Vegas for at least another five years. Team President Billy Johnson said this week that the team’s investment in the new arena at the Plaza is $4 million — and that’s just what he’s willing to pay Todd Snider for his next on-ice performance.

I joke, of course.

On Friday, Johnson and team owner Gary Jacobs are reviewing construction plans for the new facility, with a handful of seating configurations already being discussed.

One is for a symmetrical pattern, similar to the layout of Orleans Arena, but for seating to be halved to about 15 rows for the 3,500 capacity. The other is to set the seats on one side of the venue, all 3,500 or so, with VIP seating across the ice. Of course, VIP seating is different from VIP suites, and there is no guarantee (and maybe not enough space) for VIP suites at the new Wranglers venue.

These types of suites are typically sold to companies in yearlong blocks, covering the anchor tenant’s games along with any other events in the venue. The ring of VIP suites is one of many choice amenities at Orleans Arena, which is a very good facility for most any show or sporting event, the Wranglers’ soured relationship with parent company Boyd Gaming notwithstanding.

Also to be sorted out is how the arena is to be named, a task that has lagged behind the team’s efforts to simply find an arena partner and location. Johnson says the team is seeking anyone who has an interest in investing downtown for a naming-rights agreement that will (in his words) “integrate with a premier team sponsorship.”

Thus, The KatsReportDome is in play, baby!

Or, maybe an energy drink …

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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