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Stevens brothers trumpet Circa, symbiotic partnership

Updated October 28, 2020 - 11:19 am

Greg Stevens isn’t quite the silent partner in the Circa empire. He’s just not as demonstrative as his brother and business partner, Derek Stevens.

Of the two, Greg is less likely to be photographed with UFC President Dana White and actor John O’Hurley in downtown Las Vegas. This is common in Derek’s life.

But the siblings’ symbiotic relationship has paid off over the years.

“I think it’s just our character; it’s how it’s worked out over the years,” Greg Stevens said after greeting Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo at Tuesday night’s Circa VIP opening party. “Derek’s got the main room. I’ve got the basement and the roof. I keep the air conditioning going, the beer cold and the pools warm.”

Derek Stevens has long had a penchant for wearing stylish trench coats and serving as master of ceremonies on the casino floor at the D Las Vegas. Greg marvels, from a safe distance, at the his brother’s natural promotional skills.

“It’s something you’re born with,” Greg said. “He has really grown into that role. I appreciate what he does, I think he appreciates what I do, and that’s why we have been able to team up on Circa.”

Management styles are not the only distinction between the brothers.

“Derek liked casinos before I did; he was naturally drawn to them,” Greg said. “He is definitely more into sports than I am. I think he’s into sports more than most people, actually.”

So very Barry

Chef Barry Dakake knows resort openings. He was at the opening of Palms in November 2001.

“I was there from Day One,” said Dakake, who operates his own Barry’s Downtown Prime at Circa and opened Palms’ N9NE Steakhouse. “I am fortunate to have opened two resorts with two great families, the Maloofs and the Stevens.” George Maloof operated the Palms for about a decade.

The Legacy hang

I asked Derek Stevens once more about a live-entertainment venue inside Circa. The hotel’s primary entertainment venue is Stadium Swim, boasting a capacity of 4,000 and a 40-foot-high HD screen. But there seems to be no killer showroom or lounge, in the spirit of Casbar Lounge at Sahara or Copa Room at the Sands.

Stevens says that flavor of venue is in the offing.

“Remember, we still need to open Legacy Club,” Stevens said. “That is the lounge I think you’re thinking about. That’s on the roof of the building, and that doesn’t open for another eight weeks. I think the answer is, yes, and that’s the location. That’ll be the venue Legacy Club is like.”

A leg up

Vegas Vickie has undergone an extensive makeover and is one of the hotel’s signature visages. But her repaired left knee was almost not ready for Tuesday afternoon’s unveiling at Vegas Vickie’s Cocktail Lounge. The second-level bar was the site of Stevens’ last pre-opening media session.

A pulley supporting her moving leg had malfunctioned the previous day. It wasn’t until almost a minute before Stevens arrived that she was lit up, and her one moving part was in good repair. As YESCO Senior Marketing Officer Jeffrey Young said after, sign operators prefer to have the moving parts working a month before launch, not a minute.

Young should know. He’s a third-generation member of the famous sign company, which designed and built Vickie.

What’s in a title

Stevens emphasized what he plans to call the Circa sportsbook, regardless of its formal title.

“It’s the world’s largest sportsbook. I don’t know about formal or not, but that’s what I’m calling it until people get it,” Stevens said after Tuesday’s media event. “Seventy-eight million pixels! Three stories! It’s the world’s largest sportsbook!”

No false modesty there. The place is truly staggering. But in the run-up to Tuesday’s opening, officials had tempered the “world’s largest” branding by referring to the sportsbook as simply Circa Sports. That matches the entire Circa Sports wagering operation across Stevens’ resorts.

The book’s name has become an animated topic across town, as the Westgate Superbook has for generations referred to its wagering fortress as the world’s largest sportsbook. In a favorite anecdote, Stevens says he was inspired to open a resort in Las Vegas years ago after visiting the then-Las Vegas Hilton Superbook. “I went, ‘Whoa, what is this?’” Stevens said Tuesday.

But Superbook Vice President Jay Kornegay has not ceded that Circa’s overall sportsbook space is greater than the Superbook. We haven’t heard the last of this debate, and know this: One of these hotels has a plan to introduce karaoke to the sportsbook experience. That would be Westgate.

‘Absinthe’ check-in

It’s a lower bar to clear, granted, but “Absinthe” has officially sold out its first four shows and should easily reach capacity for its first week as the production returns to the stage Wednesday night.

“It’s not like it used to be, with just 150 seats now,” producer Ross Mollison said. “But we are happy.”

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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