Tracks that hold the bulk of NASCAR races saw admission revenues drop by 7.4 percent in 2016. It was the ninth consecutive year of decline.
That won’t prevent the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority from considering a proposal Wednesday that would have the bureau contribute $2.5 million annually over the next seven years to bring a second Cup Series race to town.
This weekend’s Kobalt 400 is expected to attract about 90,000 visitors, which is a lot of visitors for a sporting event. It’s just not as many as before. In 2015, LVMS took a steam shovel to the grandstand between turns 3 and 4 and buried it, because it can’t fill those seats anymore.
Other tracks have done likewise. Daytona International Speedway has reduced its seating capacity by roughly a third.
But the LVCVA wouldn’t be talking about spending money on a second race if it didn’t think it can succeed.
The only one talking Friday was driver Kevin Harvick, after he won the pole position for Sunday’s race in Atlanta.
The 2014 Cup Series champion mentioned Auto Club Speedway in California, which added a second race in 2004, only to see attendance plummet at the first. Seating capacity was reduced from 92,000 to 68,000 before Auto Club lost its second race.
“I love Vegas, and I think it’s a great sponsor,” Harvick said. “I think it would be good. But sometimes you can turn one great (race) into two mediocres. That’s just something you have to be careful of and look at and really evaluate.
“Vegas is a great place to race. I enjoy going there. If it did wind up with a second race, I would be fine with that, but I would be cautious to look at a California-type situation where you have one great event that we had there, and when we had two, it wasn’t so great.”
Old School Nascar Glory Days / 1970 Martinville / No empty seats pic.twitter.com/ZJJT0WElTJ— OldSchool (@OldSchRides) October 20, 2016
BOB MILLER CALLED IT
It was Sept 27, 1991, it was the NHL in Las Vegas of all places — and this is what Bob Miller said before the opening face-off:
“The temperature at face-off time is really quite comfortable, it’s 85 degrees; the humidity is low at 28 percent; the wind is no factor at 7 mph; the chance of rain is 40 percent and the playing surface is frozen, we hope — and we hope it’s going to stay that way …”
Those words never had been spoken during an NHL pregame show, because an NHL game never had been played outdoors before the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers skated in an exhibition game at Caesars Palace.
The ice remained frozen.
It also attracted a horde of grasshoppers during the third period.
Bob Miller, the play-by-play voice of the Kings roughly from the time the Los Angeles Forum froze over, described that crazy scene as well.
When it came to talking hockey, Miller was like Wayne Gretzky working behind the net on a Kings power play. Few were better.
But now Bob Miller, 78, will talk about hockey no more, at least not on the air. Citing health reasons, he retired Thursday.
I found the broadcast of that iconic Kings-Rangers game at Caesars on the internet, and this is what Bob Miller said as he came on the air, which seems prophetic today:
“The organizers at Caesars Palace hope tonight is the beginning of a new era in hockey, and like everything else in Las Vegas, this one was quite a gamble …”
ZUCKER LIGHTS THE LAMP
Jason Zucker is the first Las Vegas hockey player to skate a regular shift in the NHL. All things being equal, he is one of the league’s best players this season.
Zucker, who attended Bonanza High, has 20 goals with 23 assists in 62 games for the Minnesota Wild, which are nice totals. But he seldom plays on the power play. His 5-on-5 points-per-game average of 2.89 over 60 minutes not only is impressive but also leads the NHL.
Wrote one hockey blogger: “The question is no longer whether Jason Zucker is having a career year. The question is, is he having one of the best offensive seasons in franchise history?”
Jason Zucker didn't like being tied in knots by Jeff Carter, so he flattened Tyler Toffoli pic.twitter.com/NTiE13boOz— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 28, 2017
KRUGER GETS NO. 600
Lon Kruger recently became the 33rd coach to win 600 NCAA Division I games when Oklahoma blew out his alma mater, Kansas State, 81-51.
The former UNLV coach has taken five Division I schools (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma) to the NCAA Tournament, which is unprecedented. He has been to the Final Four twice, with Florida in 1994 and Oklahoma last season.
He still might be coaching here, but after he guided the Rebels to the Big Dance four times during a five-year stretch, UNLV boosters and fans decided they didn’t want him anymore.
Evel Knievel’s daredevil suit fetched $108,000 and his walking stick (with the secret compartment for storing Wild Turkey) $78,000 during a Heritage Auction in Dallas. So that’s $186,000 for both items. At $4 per slice, one could have purchased 46,500 slices of “Cheesy Rider” pizza at Evel Pie on Fremont Street for the same amount. But then you’d probably need extra for a small Coke with which to wash it down.