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Mark Davis averts face-mask penalty at Circa gala

Mark Davis was asked Tuesday night what, if anything, he’d change about Allegiant Stadium.

“The score of Sunday’s game,” he answered. The Raiders were dropped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 45-20.

Davis was then asked if he’d pull down his mask to pose for photos.

“I can’t,” he said. “I don’t want to get fined.”

Davis did visit Vegas Vickie’s Cocktail Lounge and took a look at Circa’s sportsbook. Between stops, the Las Vegas Raiders owner praised Circa and co-owner Derek Stevens.

“I give Derek a lot of credit for believing in downtown,” Davis said. “I’ve been coming to some of the restaurants down here, and we could really see a Bourbon Street atmosphere on Fremont Street. It can really explode, I think, within 10 years if the economy turns around.”

FSE, especially at the corner of Main and Fremont streets, already felt like the historic New Orleans party district on Tuesday night. Guests streamed into the hotel as doors opened at 12:01 a.m., in what felt like the opening of a Las Vegas Strip resort.

“What Derek’s done, I think, has shown a lot of people the way,” Davis said. “This place really has great potential.”

Roll it

Stevens’ welcome speech was intended to be four minutes long but might have covered 20. No matter. He stressed the city’s unified battle against COVID, and efforts to reopen during the pandemic, saying, “We’re all in this together,” and name-checked other resorts (including Westgate, for its Superbook), the Arts District and Fremont East in his comments.

Stevens then invited several of his fellow resorts operators on a “first roll” on a craps table near the sportsbook to christen the casino floor. Among the dignitaries: Scott Sibella of Resorts World, Andy Abboud of Las Vegas Sands, Jonathan Jossel of Plaza, Mike Nolan of El Cortez, Ryan Growney of South Point, and Terry Caudill of Binion’s and Four Queens. Westgate Las Vegas President and GM Cami Christensen, who attended with Davis, headed out before the photo op was arranged.

“His speech was very inclusive,” Christensen said. “It was a lovely and gracious thing to do. Derek is always welcome at Westgate.”

How we start it

Stevens opened his speech with some shtick, calling out, “Welcome, welcome, welcome! Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Children of all ages!”

He then paused, and rifled through his pockets for index cards. He glanced at one and shouted, “Wrong intro!”

Circa is 21-and-over, kids.

Goodmans poolside

For the first time in a long time, we had a chance to see Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and ex-Mayor Oscar Goodman together in public. The two were guests in the Plaza VIP cabana at Stadium Swim. Carolyn Goodman said of the new resort, “This reminds me of when Steve Wynn opened the Golden Nugget and helped pull the Strip out of a recession. Circa is going to have the same effect.”


Oscar said, “It’s a beautiful place and is going to change the landscape even more so than it has been changing. Derek is very creative, has had some very smart ideas like bringing in restaurateurs who own their own restaurants and aren’t just working for the joint.” He added, “The pools are phenomenal, and so is the sportsbook, which is going to create a lot of competition for sports bettors in town.”

Goodman takes part in a “Casino” retrospective on Nov. 19 at The Mob Museum. He’ll appear in person in the historic second-floor courtroom, with screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi on a Zoom connection. This year marks the film’s 25th anniversary, and remains Goodman’s crowning theatrical achievement.

Grand gesture

Heidi Sarno Strauss walked over while holding a drink menu at Vegas Vickie’s Cocktail Lounge. She smiled, and pointed to the name of a new cocktail: Grandissimo.

Sarno Strauss has a sentimental connection to that name. Her father, resort legend Jay Sarno, had planned to name his Strip mega-resort Grandissimo. Stevens now owns the license for that name, which was actually considered for Circa.

Instead, it’s a beverage, which is fine with Sarno Strauss. Grandissimo’s recipe is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee rye, St. George pear brandy, Lusta Palo Cortado sherry, Benedictine and angostura. I think the “mocktail” version is, in fact, #FizzyWater.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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