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Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay next up for baseball’s Winter Meetings

With baseball’s Winter Meetings having taken last-ups in Florida, Las Vegas is in the on-deck circle, swinging a weighted bat.

The national pastime’s winter confab and jamboree is set for Mandalay Bay next Dec. 9-13, and one of the heavy hitters who helped bring the meetings here for a second time already is reaching for the pine tar rag.

“It’s the only time of the year that everybody involved in baseball gets together,” 51s president Don Logan said. “The impact on Las Vegas is going to be great. In Orlando this year there (were) close to 6,500 attendees.”

Beyond baseball people wining and dining here and trading utility infielders in the morning hours, there’s the exposure Las Vegas will receive for providing a neon backdrop to these proceedings.

“All of the baseball media for the week is going to be centered here,” Logan said. “ESPN will have sets in place and have all of their talent doing regular updates. MLB.TV will do the same thing, and the various international outlets, and on top of that you’ll have all the print media dealing with whatever the issues might be.

“It’s a great, great time to be a baseball fan.”

Logan alluded to the 2008 Winter Meetings at Bellagio pumping more than $6 million of nongaming revenue into local coffers, which is why cities and municipalities lobby hard to host them, though they are not spectator oriented.

But, Logan said, you’ll have exhibitors, representatives from every major and minor league club, executives, agents, free-agent players looking to extend careers, ex-coaches and ex-players trying to break into the game at a different level and ex-players and ex-coaches trying to come back to the game.

The bases are always loaded at the Winter Meetings, he said. So if you’re a fan looking to add a signature or two to a souvenir baseball, there should be ample opportunity.

“The food court back in the Mandalay Bay convention area is going to be the place to be,” Logan said.

There’s also this: The 2019 season is projected to be a big one for free agents. Bryce Harper, who makes his home in Las Vegas, is among those expected to dip his big toe into the lucrative free agent waters.

Might there be a chance he signs with his new club during the Winter Meetings in his hometown?

I’d definitely keep an eye on the food court.


— Taking his cue from Clark Griswold, South Point Arena director Steve Stallworth will be loading the family into the Wagon Queen Family Truckster for Thursday’s Alamo Bowl — Stanford vs. Texas Christian — in San Antonio, Texas.

This will be the 14th season that Steve and the Family Stallworth have attended a postseason classic, or at least a college football game billed as such. They’ve witnessed the following bowls: Rose, Peach, Fiesta, Music City, Belk, Holiday, Poinsettia, Camping World, Texas, Kraft Fight Hunger, Heart of Dallas, Armed Forces and, of course, Las Vegas.

They were too late to catch the Weed-Eater Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, in its previous glory.

“In the mid-2000s, we took the kids to (Florida) for a week’s vacation. On the first day we took them to the Raiders versus Tampa Bay game, and we took them to the Capital One Bowl,” the former UNLV quarterback said about how the tradition began.

“We had just spent a small fortune taking them to Disney World, Epcot Center, Universal Studios, etc., and all they talked about was the football games. From then on, no more theme parks.”

— South Point owner Michael Gaughan was checking out the majestic Budweiser Clydesdales at Priefert Pavilion on Thursday when he said his old NASCAR pal Richard Childress had reeled him back in as sponsor of an Xfinity Series car. “We got a good driver,” the South Point patriarch said with a smile about 26-year-old Daniel Hemric, who will take over the wheel of the South Point Chevy for Gaughan’s son, Brendan.

— Las Vegas Bowl postscript: If Eldorado High’s Steven Jackson had opted to sit out the 2003 edition of the game to protect his NFL draft status as Oregon’s star running back Royce Freeman did this year, Oregon State might have beaten New Mexico only 25-14 instead of 55-14. Jackson scored five touchdowns in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl. He did not hurt his draft status one little bit.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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