While Las Vegas is the boxing capital of the world, the city also became the center of the baseball universe this week.
But even with the winter meetings taking place here, news hasn’t been pouring out of the Bellagio ballrooms.
Yes, CC Sabathia might be closing in on a megadeal with the Dodgers, and Francisco Rodriguez just received $37 million to become a Met, but the level of trade and signing activity is noticeably low.
Baseball is feeling the pinch the rest of America is absorbing. Big deals will get done, but look for a drop-off in the dollar figures for players who aren’t front-liners.
Owners, nervous about a drop-off in season-ticket renewals and declining sponsorship, are being careful how they spend their money.
"Baseball is not separate from the world," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Right now, we’re in an economic crisis."
• CRUNCH TIME — Baseball is only one sport on which the country’s economic difficulties have had noticeable effects.
Even the NFL decided to cut 150 employees, and if that league is downsizing, no pro sport should feel comfortable.
The Sports Business Journal, in fact, reported the NFL will fall $50 million short of expected revenue.
• END OF THE AFL? — The Arena Football League left Las Vegas more than a year ago, and now there is danger it will be gone, period.
The AFL had hoped to have closed a $100 million deal with Platinum Equity, but the fact it hasn’t been finalized has many league observers worried. The deal would put the AFL on sound footing for the next several years.
No deal? One source said as many as four teams could fold within a week. That would force the AFL to try to play next season with 12 teams — if more don’t dissolve. Or the AFL could take a year off to find another big-money partner.
League and team officials insist plans are to proceed as scheduled, but consider these troubling signs: Still no commissioner, still no announcement of the ArenaBowl site, and the free-agent signing period and New Orleans VooDoo dispersal draft dates have been postponed indefinitely.
• WHOSE HOME COURT? — Las Vegas is supposed to be a basketball town, but even a successful UNLV team doesn’t sell out the Thomas & Mack Center.
That is unless Arizona comes here with its basketball and football teams. With the Wildcats playing in the Las Vegas Bowl at 5 p.m. Dec. 20, their basketball team will face the Rebels at noon that day.
A heavy increase in ticket sales could lead to a sellout. Then it will be interesting to see how much UNLV fans outnumber Arizona supporters at a game that will be played during the winter break, when many students are gone.
• NICE TO MEET YOU — Arizona and Brigham Young were in Las Vegas on Tuesday to promote the Las Vegas Bowl, and Cougars defensive end Jan Jorgensen got to see Wildcats quarterback Willie Tuitama up close.
"It’s been fun getting to know him today," said Jorgensen, the Mountain West’s career leader in sacks. "Hopefully, I’ll get to know him a little bit better on (game day)."
COMPILED BY MARK ANDERSON LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL