69°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Rising star in Mesquite offers total immersion in sports camp

Updated May 14, 2017 - 9:46 pm

MESQUITE — When it comes to building a niche customer base, there may be none more loyal than athletes.

They thrive in the thrill of competition and the good ones excel in an atmosphere of teamwork. They know that practice, practice, practice will make them better and that living in a camp environment can build lifelong friendships.

And it’s fun, really fun.

Immersion in an athletic sports camp can be make memories that a participant will want to relive over and over.

That’s the concept that Gregory Lee, vice president of Urban Land of Nevada, and Andre Carrier, president and chief operating officer of the Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort in Mesquite, see for the hotel unlike any other in Southern Nevada.

There’s no casino at Rising Star. No entertainers or headliners. No nightclub.

But there are ballfields, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, batting cages, a putting green, volleyball and pickleball courts and a swimming pool and hot tub.

The ‘Backyard’

The resort’s “Backyard” outdoor recreation area is exactly what it says it is — a place for kids to go out and play.

This week, work crews will be putting the finishing touches on “The Barn,” a bright red 30,000-square-foot field house visible from Interstate 15 that can be configured to hold a full youth-size soccer field with artificial turf, two Little League baseball infields, three basketball courts, six volleyball courts or nine pickleball courts. It’s scheduled to open Saturday.

There’s enough room to curtain off three separate areas within the building with bleacher seating.

The resort is next door to some of the city of Mesquite’s lighted baseball and softball fields, an easy walk for competitive scrimmages or games during camps.

The property has forged relationships with the city to use parks and recreational facilities and with 14 golf courses in Mesquite, Coyote Springs and St. George, Utah. Rising Star is the exclusive hotel partner to Mesquite’s Wolf Creek Golf Club.

If it gets too hot or too cold outside, the resort has an indoor arcade with more than 50 games, including a mini-bowling alley and skee ball.

Bunks in rooms

Even the rooms at the resort are much different from the standard hotel. The four-story Rising Star has 210 guest rooms that can accommodate 700 guests. That’s more than three guests per room on average. That’s because the layout includes 12 sets of adjoining rooms that include a room with king-size bed for a coach or adult caretaker, connected to a room filled with bunk-beds that can accommodate up to 12, connected to a loungelike setting for television-watching, team gatherings, playing board games or just chilling out.

The bunkhouse format not only enables a camp atmosphere, but it makes rooms more affordable for guests. And Rising Star boasts that it has no add-on resort fees.

Unlike most hotel restaurants, Rising Star’s Victory Cafe has several long tables that can be connected so that entire teams — or several new acquaintances in a camp setting — can swap stories over meals.

The motif is strictly sports with sports artwork and memorabilia on walls throughout the campus. Painted on the hotel halls are quotes from athletes and philosophers about sports, teamwork and sportsmanship. Several alcoves around the hotel have collages of baseball, football and basketball trading cards.

The porte cochere for the hotel has plenty of seating for teams that arrive by bus while team administrators and hotel staff finalize the distribution of room keys.

And even those room keys are different.

RFID entry

Instead of standard hotel entry cards, Rising Star guests receive a wristband with a radio-frequency identification chip to enter a room. That same RFID wristband is loaded with a guest’s meal plan that can be used like a debit card at the cafe or to purchase snacks or drinks at a convenience store.

But campers should also know the wristband works two ways — it can alert a coach or supervisor if the wearer leaves a room after hours.

Maybe the only amenity that isn’t drenched in sports is the hotel’s 7,500-square-foot ballroom. It works well in the community since Mesquite is underserved for ballroom space.

Carrier, who has a hotel administration degree from Cornell University, went to work in Las Vegas for the parent company of the old Sahara before being recruited by Steve Wynn in 1999 to run his Golden Nugget properties in downtown Las Vegas and Laughlin.

In 2007, he joined forces with longtime friend Lee, whose family acquired the Eureka Casino Resort in 1997.

New direction

When a city-approved plan to convert the old Mesquite Star hotel into a truck stop fell through, Lee’s family took it in a new direction.

“I remember going to the Pac-12 tournaments when they were all spread around, and I thought how things could be different,” said Lee, a member of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors.“When you brought all the teams and the fans together to the MGM (Grand) for the first time, you said, ‘You know, this is really fun, to meet all the other kids, to meet the other teams, meet the other families in an area designed for this kind of camaraderie.’ “

Kid clients

Carrier views his clientele a little differently than most hoteliers.

“The tagalong sibling is our audience as well,” Carrier said. “The way we’re set up, a whole family can find something to do while the athlete trains at camp. At night in the summer, everybody can go to the ballfield for games and scrimmages. And the little brother or sister? They know their time will be coming some day.”

The summer is filled with Nike sports camps expected to be attended by athletes from all over the West.

“We’re just trying to get one or two weeks off the ground with 30 to 50 kids a week,” said Steve Pence, president of San Rafael, California-based U.S. Sports Camps.

“Rising Star Sports Ranch is providing room, board and sports facilities and our job is to bring in the U.S. Sports Nike camp staff to run the camps, so it’s a nice combination, and together we’re doing some marketing. We’re doing the customer service and right now the camps are in June and we’re still working hard to try to fill those camps so they’re a go.”

Adult fun

But Rising Star isn’t just for kids.

Frederic Apcar, chief financial officer for Kaercher Insurance in Las Vegas, also is president of the Nevada Adult Soccer Association and his group is looking to have an adult soccer festival with a reggae band in September.

“I’m a Nevada kid,” Apcar said. “I love Ely. I love our small little towns in the middle of nowhere. We go to Mesquite to play golf and hang out. So I definitely wasn’t expecting a facility like this.”

A soccer athlete who played in college and overseas, Apcar said there are few venues like Rising Star in the United States.

“It’s a model like you see in Europe, where you’ve got room and board and the fields are right there. I think the closest thing to it is the Nike or Disney facilities in Orlando,” he said.

While Apcar has high hopes for his adult soccer getaway Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, he’s also looking to work with Carrier and one of the other boards he serves — the After-School All-Stars.

“Because of the locations of our schools, the majority of our kids are Hispanic or at-risk kids,” Apcar said. “A weekend away for them at a facility like this will knock their socks off. ”

A researcher who studies the relationship between sports and families agrees that the concept could not only be beneficial to children, but the idea makes good business sense.

Professionalization

“What they’re tapping into is the professionalization of youth sports,” said Travis Dorsch, an assistant professor in the Department of Family, Consumer and Human Development and the founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University, Logan.

“Looking at it through a business lens, I think they’re wise to do this,” Dorsch said. “We could argue and pontificate for days if not weeks about if that’s the right thing to do for youth development, but I think they’re seeing a need and filling that need.”

Dorsch, who grew up in San Diego, then Montana, sees Mesquite as ideal for the concept.

“It’s especially good in a town like Mesquite, where you have such a different change in climate over a hundred miles as you drop into Southern Utah and into Nevada,” Dorsch said. “They’ll have kids coming down from northern and central Utah who have snow on the ground three or four or five months out of the year. This is a place they can get to and have soccer and baseball or softball, year around.”

And another great thing about Mesquite — it’s compact.

“I remember going to sports tournaments where you’d be in the hotel and have breakfast and then you’d have to drive 45 minutes or an hour to get to the field for a game, and then you’d have to do the same thing the next day,” Carrier said.

“Here in Mesquite, everything is just 10 minutes away so you get to spend more of your time playing.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Lucky Dragon’s foreign investors demand refund

The Lucky Dragon’s developers and prior management are facing lawsuits from Chinese investors, the project’s main lender and a Canadian high-roller who paid a $400,000 deposit to lease the casino just one month before it abruptly closed.