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September 23, 2014

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Westgate owner climbs high again; Agassi stays grounded in Reno

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Las Vegas Sun

Westgate Resorts founder David Siegel has his photo taken at the unveiling of the sign for the former LVH on Wednesday, July 22, 2014.

Updated Sunday, July 27, 2014 | 5:02 p.m.

Westgate Resorts Sign

A worker watches as the W is lowered after the unveiling of the new Westgate Resorts sign for the former LVH Wednesday, July 22, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Notes and quotes from the streets of VegasVille:

• Westgate Resorts founder David Siegel has risen, again, at the old Las Vegas Hilton/LVH sign. Last week, he helped place the “W” on the famed marquee facing Paradise Road (and here is where we quote Jimmy Durante from “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” by saying, “You’ll see it under this big W. You can’t miss it!”). This is the first letter placed, in the spirit of “Wheel of Fortune,” in filling out “Westgate Las Vegas” on that sign.

On July 1, the day the hotel’s sale was announced, Siegel was raised by crane to pull the “L” off the marquee. If the new “W” looks familiar, it should, and it is not even new. The letters from the old Westgate PH property on the Strip, the timeshare Siegel eventually lost in foreclosure to Hilton Vacations, have been salvaged and are being fastened to the old LV Hilton marquee. So, give the Westgate folks points for sustainability.

Many of the hotel’s ongoing renovations are related to its infrastructure, especially the electrical system. So it was fitting that Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, who was on hand for the photo op, worked on the construction crew that installed the original electrical system in the then-International, which opened in 1969. And, Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani was once a bartender at the hotel. Historically wired up and fired up, that’s our Clark County Commission.

• Andre Agassi finally made an appearance at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City, serving as keynote speaker July 19 for the Governor’s Dinner. The event was a fundraiser for the UNR athletics department and not a political event. In addressing his oft-discussed political aspirations, Agassi got off a good line in a text with, “If I declare my candidacy, the governor will be the first to know.” As to why the Las Vegas native lent his powerful name and presence to UNLV’s chief rival, Agassi told the Reno Gazette-Journal, “It’s an honor to be respected enough where I can travel the state and make a difference. To not do it would leave me with some explaining to do.”

• On the topic of Las Vegas sports legends, Greg Maddux is in Cooperstown, N.Y., to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. One of his invited guests is former Las Vegas KTNV Channel 13 sportscaster and, since, conservative political activist and freelance journalist Ron Futrell. The two have known each other since the start of Futrell’s broadcasting days in Las Vegas, which date to 1983, and have become golfing buddies over the years.

You might recall, or not, that Futrell was let go by Channel 13 in July 2008 after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident and charged with a series of misdemeanor driving offenses, all of which were dropped by the end of that year. More recently, he made news in June 2013 by heckling left-leaning comedian Bill Maher from the audience at the Pearl Concert Theater (Futrell said he was taking issue with Maher’s “old” material and not his political perspective). I caught up with Futrell last week at Caesars Palace, at Melody Sweets’ performance for the unveiling of her “Shoot ’Em Up” music video. Futrell was all smiles on this night, though he did joke that since he was part Native American, he was looking for any offensive references to his heritage from the costumed crossbow artists in the production. Happily, the night came off heckle-free.

• A bridge between Fremont Street and the Strip has been forged between Downtown Grand and Cirque du Soleil. Two Cirque shows have celebrated anniversaries over the past couple of months, “MJ One” marking its first birthday and “Love” at the Mirage notching No. 8. Cirque shows often celebrate their landmark birthdays with post-show parties at their respective properties, but this year those two shows opted for Picnic at Downtown Grand. The hotel offered all the Cirque folks $30 rooms as part of the deal to have their anniversary parties at Picnic.

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