Monday, Sept. 15, 2008 | 3:48 p.m.
It appears Harrah's is bowing out out of the Las Vegas sports arena business before the first TV timeout.
A report in today's Sports Business Journal, citing inside sources, said Harrah's will no longer partner with arena developer AEG on a proposed 20,000-seat arena behind the Las Vegas Strip.
The Journal said a group of investors including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, MGM Studios CEO Harry Sloan and Wall Street financier David Bonderman would instead partner with AEG on the project that was announced in August 2007.
The group's goal is to bring in an NHL expansion franchise to Las Vegas by October 2010.
Don't be surprised if this news turns out to be much ado about nothing, at least as it applies to the local sports fan.
In fact, it might even prove to be a positive development.
According to the Sports Business Journal, NHL executives were concerned that if Harrah's remained as a partner, the other Strip properties might not want to support the $500 million project by purchasing suites and driving other business toward a casino rival.
That's a legitimate concern. Remember the old Caesars Palace Grand Prix?
Plus, Harrah's is having money problems. Insiders say it could still profit by allowing the arena to be built on the proposed site, where sports and concert fans would have easy access to its gaming tables and slot machines. Or Harrah's could even sell the land on which the arena would be built to the new partners.
Again, if anybody's nervous, it should be UNLV, which depends on the Thomas & Mack Center for revenue. The T&M is the second largest-grossing arena in the world, trailing only Madison Square Garden. But it most likely would lose many of its events to the new arena, if and when it is built.
The bad thing about sports arenas selling their naming rights to corporations means there's no chance whatsoever that the new Las Vegas arena will be named the Cow Palace. Or Cow Palace East.
Even if they hold the National Finals Rodeo there.