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Mark Davis treats Aces’ alumni to fancy Strip dinner

Updated May 21, 2021 - 5:05 pm

Cue the Eagles, a band favored by rock fan Mark Davis. He’s in it for the long run in his ownership of the Las Vegas Aces.

Thursday night was yet another magnanimous gesture by Davis, who bought the team in February. Davis hosted a dinner at Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay for five members of the Aces alumni, dating to the original Utah Starzz from the franchise’s 1997 inaugural season.

The ex-players who were with the franchise over the years were Andrea Gardner Williams (San Antonio Silver Stars), LaQuanda Barksdale (Silver Stars), Wendy Palmer (Starzz), Adrianne Ross (San Antonio Stars) and Danielle Crockrom Fontenot.

“We will be honoring the alumni, all throughout the season, we’re building an Aces alumni association, and we flew all of them in to be honored,” Davis said. “We are telling them they will not be forgotten. I’ll tell you, it brought them to tears. It was great.”

He went on, “We’ll build some real goodwill, too. I’m in it for the long run.” Davis is using a template already established, as he has built a strong community bond with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders alumni.

The Aces and WNBA are both celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. The team would move to San Antonio in 2003, and eventually to Las Vegas as the Aces. Davis’ new team hosts its home opener at 7:30 p.m. today against the Los Angeles Sparks at Michelob Ultra Arena.

In generating a more citywide identity for the Aces, Davis has intimated the team will seek a new arena and is not long for Michelob Ultra Arena. During a chat at Allegiant Stadium on May 11, after Nikki Fargas was introduced as the team’s new president, he said the team is reviewing spots for a new Aces facility in Las Vegas.

The team has a lease for this season and two one-year options to continue to play at Mandalay Bay. “Eventually we’d like a new building,” Davis said, specifying Summerlin, Henderson and the Strip as the sites to eventually host the Aces. He also said that a 7,500-8,000-seat venue would be ideal.

The owner is holding that level of conversation, for now.

“I’m not going to try to predict,” he said Thursday. “We’ll take it day-by-day. Right now we’re looking at our first home game, at Mandalay Bay.”

Route 66 for MD

Davis also turned 66 on Tuesday night. He hit the road to celebrate.

“I went to Seattle to watch the Aces game, and we won!” he said with a laugh, referring to the Aces 96-80 victory. “It was a hell of a birthday present.”

Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer’s birthday was Wednesday, his 64th. The pilot of the team’s flight back to Vegas led the passengers in a callout to Laimbeer, the ex-Detroit Pistons “Bad Boy” who turned back his team’s attempt to celebrate on a bus ride to the airport.

As the scene played out on the team’s official Twitter page, the pilot called out, “We also got the special request from the Las Vegas Aces, the Las Vegas representation of the Women’s National Basketball Association. They were in Seattle last night to give their coach an early birthday present — kinda reminiscent of Mr. Laimbeer’s glorious days with the Detroit Pistons, if you’re old enough to remember his spectacular play there.”

Oh, and happy birthday, big fella.

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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