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Las Vegas has winners in house with ‘Hamilton,’ Golden Knights

I don’t know if Myron Martin plays poker, but he shouldn’t.

Martin has this expressive face, especially when he’s happy. His eyes flash, he grins, he giggles. He gives away his cards, his feelings, all of his passion.

And Thursday night at Reynolds Hall, the president of The Smith Center had this elated gaze that called out, “Oooh! Royal flush!”

I caught up with Martin at the Smith Center’s VIP enclave, the Founders Room, during intermission of “Hamilton.” He walked in as if having prevailed in the mayoral election, grinning and grabbing hands and saying, “THIS is my favorite cast!” Martin has seen “Hamilton” several times and is likely to be in the audience for the balance of performances running through June 24.

Martin walked into a conversation with some of the night’s attendees. It was a diverse group, including Dr. Keith Boman (vice chairman of the Smith Center’s board of directors, for whom Boman Pavilion is named), AEG Live Senior Vice President John Nelson and his partner, Milo Miloscia; and Showtime boxing announcer, broadcast legend and occasional Vegas lounge crooner Al Bernstein.

Just as Martin approached, I turned to Bernstein — no stranger to monumental events — and asked if this is one of the greatest weeks in the city’s history. The night before, of course, our Vegas Golden Knights hosted Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena.

“No question,” Bernstein said. “I have not seen this kind of community support before, with two major events happening at the same time.”

I then asked Martin, “Greatest week ever?”

“You might be looking at it,” he said, nodding while scoping out the room. “Las Vegas is the place to be, right now.”

Stats bear out that assertion. On five consecutive nights in Las Vegas, there was not an empty seat at T-Mobile Arena or Reynolds Hall. More than 18,000 fans for the Golden Knights-Capitals games crammed into T-Mobile on Monday and Wednesday. “Hamilton” jammed the 2,050-seat capacity Reynolds Hall beginning with Tuesday’s opening night.

The Smith Center will sell upward of 65,000 tickets for “Hamilton,” which also happens to be the capacity of the under-construction Raiders stadium.

But the “who” of it all, those who have been spotted at The Smith Center and T-Mobile, is as relevant as those pure numbers. I ran into Nelson and Miloscia on Monday and Wednesday at the VGK games, and again at Smith Center. These two see all the shows — Nelson is one of the leading live-entertainment booking executives in the region — so catching them at Reynolds Hall was entirely expected.

But before the Golden Knights opened in October, Nelson and Miloscia were not exactly known as sports fanatics. Nelson had seen a total of five NHL games in person; Miloscia, an operating partner at The Ride indoor cycling center, had seen two.

But they became fans, fast. The couple are season ticket holders at T-Mobile, and actually attended two Stanley Cup Final games before they ever saw a performance of “Hamilton.”

They also traveled to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between Washington and Tampa Bay at Capital One Arena “for research.”

“The city has never experienced anything like this, with top-level sports and art at the same time,” Nelson said. “To be experiencing something so new and exciting every night, every week — it makes you feel good to be alive, it really does.”

The Golden Knights have actually followed The Smith Center’s lead, by design or by fate, in community outreach. The organization has made hockey available to people in Las Vegas, through youth leagues and thought the massively popular open (and free) workouts at City National Arena.

The Smith Center has given fans of top-notch musical theater a chance to see “Hamilton” with its $10 lottery system. Launch the “Hamilton” app on your phone and you could win the opportunity to buy two tickets to the show at $10 apiece, which is the same cover charge as a Zowie Bowie show at Rocks Lounge (not to make comparisons).

And there is a continuity among The Smith Center’s founding fathers that helped bring a hit show about one of our country’s Founding Fathers to the stage. The team that developed the original concept for The Smith Center a decade ago, and was in the building when it opened in March 2012, is still intact. Top executives Martin, Bowman, Chairman of the Board Don Snyder, and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Paul Beard are all still part of the the Smith Center’s winning lineup.

A professional franchise would do well to maintain such synergy in its front office. But the Golden Knights are buttressing The Smith Center’s capacity to captivate this city. For proof, just take a look at Myron Martin’s face. The grin says it all.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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