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Columnist Susan Snyder: Life isn’t too serious on Sirius

Susan Snyder's column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays. Reach her at [email protected] or (702) 259-4082.

WEEKEND EDITION

June 4-5, 2005

As plans for another high-rise development sit on the drawing board, rumors abound that another Las Vegas locals' favorite is destined for the wrecking ball.

But this summer is not the last for Scandia Family Fun Centers, its management says. It is not scheduled to close to make way for a new condominium tower because the prospective developers haven't bought the property.

"They put down earnest money so they could go to the City Council and get a zoning variance, and that's it," said Rik Francis, Scandia operations manager. "All this you read about in the newspapers isn't true."

The amusement complex at 2900 Sirius Ave. is visible off the west side of Interstate 15, just across from the Strip. The site's proximity to the world-famous adult playground could make it a prime spot for Opus Las Vegas, a twin-tower, 700-unit complex Boston-based Congress Group hoped to start building in 2006.

But if talk of towers and metropolitan living were on tap at Scandia over Memorial Day weekend, it couldn't be heard above the chatter of customers waiting to buy tickets, the bells and beeps of arcade games or the constant clacking of air-hockey pucks.

Old favorites such as Skee-Ball and horse-and-jockey figures racing across a track overhead seemed as popular as their modern, high-tech cousins.

A small girl handed her dad a string of pink Skee-Ball reward tickets longer than she was tall, then grabbed a rifle at the Copenhagen Shooting Gallery.

Outside, sopped inner-tube captains squealed with glee on the bumper boats, while players packed the three miniature golf courses. Four small golfers circumvented the wait on one course by starting at the eighth hole and going backward.

"Hey, you can't start there," an adult player shouted in a teasing tone.

The boys trotted off. Golf, it seemed, was merely an excuse to dart and giggle among the miniature castles, trees and fountains. They may not have taken a single stroke all evening.

"That's what I'm talkin' about," a man said to his wife when she sank a hole-in-one. "Proud of yourself, Smartypants?"

She was. Took him four strokes.

The group of six ahead of them made a hilarious show of playing the game. It wasn't entirely clear whether anyone was keeping score, but it was a pretty sure bet everyone was having fun.

"I haven't been here in years, but my kids said I was getting old. So I had to come," Jeri Ellsworth said after finishing the game with four of her six grown children and a son-in-law.

"I lost by one. But in print you should put that I won by one," said Grahm Coder, who is married to Ellsworth's daughter, Ashley, and just graduated from UNLV.

"We come here about once every month," Coder said.

"We play for back rubs," Thomas Ellsworth, his brother-in-law, added.

They hoped the rumors of closure were as fictional as Coder's miniature-golf victory.

"Say there's no place else in Las Vegas to have fun," Coder said. "Say whatever you have to to make them keep it open."

That's easy, because the business that has entertained families for almost 20 years isn't closing, Francis said.

"I might be sitting here for the next 20 years."

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