Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 | 6 p.m.
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 …
The Plaza, renovated in 2011, has a lobby that features marble and inlaid mosaic tiles, chandeliers and a plush front desk that matches the classic Las Vegas feel with a contemporary look.
The hotel has 1,003 rooms and suites that showcase views of the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas. Amenities include world-class entertainment, a casino floor that offers an array of classic gaming choice, which include 600 slot machines, a 400-seat bingo room, 18 table games and 57,120 square feet of casino space.
Among the dining options is Oscar's Beef * Booze * Broads, a steakhouse opened by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, which is located in the glittery dome enclosure above the hotel's main entrance.
The Plaza sits at the west end of the Fremont Street Experience on the site of the first train depot and auction site in Las Vegas, dating back to the San Pedro-Los Angeles-Salt Lake Railroad in 1905. The railroad was sold to Union Pacific in 1921 and the depot was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Union Plaza Hotel, built in 1971.
The hotel has been featured or is visible in several movies, including the 1971 James Bond film, "Diamonds are Forever;" the 1989 film "Back to the Future Part II;" the 1995 move "Casino," and the 2000 movie "Pay it Forward."