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Powerhouse Las Vegas entertainment group seeks ticket to return

Updated July 24, 2020 - 2:45 pm

Get to know the title Vegas Events COVID-19 Committee, and the acronym VECC. The committee looms large in Las Vegas’ post-pandemic entertainment future.

Organized quietly and behind the scenes, VECC is more than 30 venue and resort heavyweights who operate in Las Vegas and are teaming for a plan to return the city safely to live entertainment.

“Our fans and visitors need to feel comfortable and safe coming to our events,” says Las Vegas Events president Pat Christenson, who has headed up the effort to assemble the committee. “We are sharing and exchanging ideas and information with each other. That is what the purpose of the group is.”

Those on board include reps from Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas Ballpark, T-Mobile Arena and all the arenas in the MGM Resorts International family. Officials from Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, The Smith Center, the Fremont Street Experience and Downtown Las Vegas Events Center are all swapping knowledge.

Orleans Arena and Life is Beautiful are represented, as are dominant Vegas headline promoters Live Nation and AEG Presents.

The committee began as a way to address concerns regarding the annual National Finals Rodeo, operated by LVE, and swiftly grew to include a wide array of events across Las Vegas. The VECC will, over time, draft a set of guidelines that everyone in the group will agree to adopt.

That plan will be shared throughout the industry, in Las Vegas and beyond.

“When you look at these venues in Las Vegas, it’s a little bit more diverse than just a casino or hotel operations,” Christenson says. “We need to be very consistent for the guidelines for a 1,500-seat venue, all the way up to a stadium. If anything is consistent in this group, it is we are talking about ticketed events for all types of venues and special events.”

Provisions for a 1,500-capacity theater can be applied to a lounge, supper club or smaller Las Vegas showrooms.

“What we decide can be adopted at other venues. The focus really is festivals, stadiums, arenas and theaters,” Christenson says. “I think every hotel with regular running show will adopt what we do.”

The initiatives are not to be mandatory. But the collective experience behind the guidelines should be compelling enough for any live-venue operator to enact.

“This is binding only to ourselves,” Christenson says. “What we are saying, collectively as group of experts in the industry, these are our guidelines.”

Expect the discussions to center on health care directives from such agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state Gaming Control Board. Members are reviewing how reopenings are handled across the country, and if their initiatives can work in an ongoing pandemic.

The timeline to issue the VECC findings is as fluid as today’s news, but the goal is to achieve a cohesive plan everyone can agree upon.

“We talk about social distancing, as one example,” Christenson says. “How do you create systems in which you are able to do that conveniently and efficiently? We want to develop guidelines that show what works, that is manageable with no outbreaks.”

The committee is a team of those who are not commonly teammates in a competitive Las Vegas entertainment and sports market. But city leaders often coalesce for major initiatives — the NFR at Thomas & Mack partners with Strip resorts and the Fremont Street Experience for the NFR Experience citywide party.

“This is what we do in Las Vegas is come together when we need to,” Christenson says. “When we’ll be ready to come back will be determined in its own time. But we want to be 100 percent ready when that time comes.”

Something for Joey

Former “Splash” and “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” comic stalwart Joe Trammel has opened his garage for an ongoing YouTube comedy series, under his virtual Joey Vegas stage moniker. “The Comedy Garage” welcomes entertainers to perform socially distanced at the Trammel homestead.

Email him at imjoeyvegas@gmail.com. Those who can’t make it to the “live” show can submit videos to the series.

Trammel has also posted 50 “Pandemic Series” quick clips on his Joey Vegas YouTube page. The production isn’t as advanced as “Splash” at the Riv, but unlike the old hotel, Trammel’s new venue has the advantage of still standing.

Virtual Cool Hang Alert

Positively Arts and associate “Le Reve” bandleader Angela Chan-Stopa are hosting a “Front Porch Mini Concert” series at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. You can enjoy the performances anytime on the Positively Arts Facebook and YouTube pages. The performances feature the kids from Positively Arts performing with Chan’s band of such established pros as Alex Stopa, Tyler Williams and Dena Williams.

It all happens in the Stopas’ driveway, which is near the porch. Chan-Stopa says the series will continue through at least May 21 — or until the heat drives the party inside.

As part of the project, 25 Positively Arts students last week recorded “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” while backed by the “Le Reve” band. That breathtaking video is also on Positively Arts’ YouTube page, easily worth its free subscription.

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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