Tucked into a de facto alleyway in the literal shadow of the Strip, the Stage Door Casino is a Las Vegas institution. In more ways than one.
It may be the only place in town where one can get a multicourse meal — a cold Budweiser or Michelob Light and a hot dog — for $3 amid an eccentric cast of characters that makes the Star Wars cantina look like Tavern on the Green.
The Stage Door caters to a blue-collar clientele. It’s a little rough around the edges — rough as in the finish of “Proud Mary” as performed by Ike and Tina Turner — which is a big part of its allure.
It’s a place where guys who sit in the Black Hole just beyond the north end zone at Raiders games would feel totally at ease.
When word got out that Raiders superfan Wayne Mabry — aka “Violator,” who has been painting his face silver and black and wearing spiked shoulder pads to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since Snake Stabler was the Raiders’ quarterback and Las Vegan David Humm his backup — was “clocking out” from following the team to Las Vegas because ticket prices were too high at Allegiant Stadium, the Stage Door reached out with a helping hand and a well-done hot dog.
Be my guest
John Vizcarra, director of operations at the Stage Door but not responsible for the Three Mile Island frankfurters, says the only-in-Las Vegas casino-convenience store has offered to fly Violator in for next season’s home opener and put him up in a hotel much nicer than the Stage Door.
He also has offered Violator one of his personal tickets in the south end zone.
With seat licenses, two tickets in section 123 — Allegiant Stadium’s sanitized version of the notorious Black Hole — set Vizcarra back $35,000.“I lived in Oakland and was in the first grade when they moved to L.A.,” Vizcarra said of feeling Mabry’s pain. “I was crushed. We didn’t have the internet then. The only way I could read about my team was in the (San Francisco Chronicle) Sporting Green on Monday.”
Other expressions of generosity have been fluttering into my email account like Ken Stabler’s “Sea of Hands” pass against the Dolphins during the ‘74 playoffs:
■ A member of Raider Nation based in New York said he plans to attend only four of the eight home games in Las Vegas. He offered to give Violator his two tickets in section 345 at face value ($99) for the ones he can’t make.
■ Another set up a GoFundMe account that at first glance had raised thousands of dollars in pledges but since has been taken down.
■ One wrote that he met Mabry in Phoenix and that Violator posed for a photo with the man and his son, which made the son’s day. Another said he used to sit in the Black Hole but couldn’t afford the seat license fee, so now he’s up in the fourth deck reading up on nosebleed prevention.
■ “Guy has been coming to games for 30 years,” wrote firstname.lastname@example.org, expressing compassion. “(Raiders owner) Mark Davis should give this guy lifetime season tickets. (Coach Jon) Gruden has got $100 million … show some love.”
I only heard from one contrarian who said the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t need “fans like him” visiting Las Vegas. The author did not sign his name. One assumes he was a Chiefs fan.
Mabry said he appreciated the support from the others but that he wasn’t looking for a handout.
“I’m just a fan like anybody else,” said the 63-year-old retired carpenter who lives near Riverside, California, on a fixed income and said he paid $2,400 for season tickets in the Black Hole. “But I have a saying, ‘leave a footprint in your journey,’ and this makes me feel like I’ve walked beside the right people all these years.”
As for “clocking out,” he wanted Raider Nation and even bitter Chiefs fans to know he’s only clocking out on the expense it would take to follow the team to Las Vegas, and that he will continue to punch the clock in front of his TV on Sundays and the occasional Monday and Thursday nights when the Raiders are on.
“I will follow them to Timbuktu on a skateboard,” Mabry said, adding that $3 for a cold beer and a nuked hot dog at the Stage Door sounded like a great reason to drive to Las Vegas to see who the Raiders might take in the NFL draft.