Monthly Archives: August 2015

Arena Football’s Las Vegas Outlaws Go Under

The floundering Las Vegas Outlaws, Sin City’s third attempt at an Arena Football League franchise, have ceased operations after just one season.

The Las Vegas Outlaws launched in April 2015, and rumors of the demise of the troubled team have been swirling since June.

The Outlaws have had trouble attracting fans from opening day, with attendance at home games averaging a paltry 3,500.

Las Vegas Outlaws

And, yes, to answer your other question, there’s still an Arena Football League.

In mid-July, control of the Las Vegas Outlaws was wrested away from owner Vince Neil, former frontman for Mötley Crüe, by the Arena Football League. Neil and his ownership partners reportedly lost control of the team when debts mounted and the AFL stepped in to bail the team out.

Vince Neil, ever the class act, blamed Las Vegas on the team’s financial problems. “Sports teams survive on sponsorships. It’s the sponsors who keep all sports alive, and unfortunately Las Vegas did not step up as much as we envisioned with sufficient sponsorships.” Get out your waders, folks, it’s finger-pointing time. Read more.

Vince Neil’s cringe-worthy rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the launch event for the Outlaws is the stuff of Las Vegas legend, for all the wrong reasons.

The Outlaws are the third AFL team to tank in Las Vegas.

In 1994, there was The Sting. Unable to gain a foothold in Vegas, the team eventually moved to Anaheim, California. (They became the Anaheim Piranhas.) Another team, The Gladiators, made a go of it in Vegas from 2003 to 2007 before relocating to Cleveland.

Seriously, how bad to things have to get before moving to Cleveland is an improvement?

As for the Las Vegas Outlaws, insiders claim AFL Commissioner Scott Butera is seeking a new ownership group for the team. Vince Neil says, cluelessly, “The Outlaws will be back for next season.” Right. Don’t hold your breath.

 

Holy Crap, Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino Las Vegas Could Actually Be a Thing

We are currently in the Age of Skepticism in Las Vegas. Breaking ground is meaningless. Unless we see physical proof of construction, any project is suspect.

Until it’s not.

The Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, which we’ve proclaimed repeatedly will never happen, now appears to be a thing.

Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino

We’re clearly past the whimsy stage.

A recent visit to the Lucky Dragon construction site, adjacent to the Golden Steer Steakhouse on Sahara Avenue, not far from SLS Las Vegas and Stratosphere, revealed lots of activity, with about six floors of the nine-story hotel in place.

Here’s some video so you don’t think we Photoshopped the Lucky Dragon into existence.

While we’re still a tad skittish about the Lucky Dragon project due to its reliance on EB-5 financing, enough concrete has been poured to convince us it’s not a complete fantasy like the Fusion Project or SkyVue observation wheel.

EB-5 financing is a program whereby immigrant investors can pony up large wads of cash (typically $500,000) and get a U.S. visa. The program hasn’t been around long, but raised about $115 million to renovate SLS Las Vegas, formerly the Sahara.

Lucky Dragon casino

Baby steps.

The EB-5 visa program has had its ups and downs. At various times, the government has run out of visas due to high demand. There’s also been greater scrutiny of the program due to political scandals and concerns about visas being given to “forgers, fraudsters and criminals.” Read more.

Lucky Dragon casino

If this turns out to not be a thing, it’s going to be a big one.

The Asian-themed Lucky Dragon is being built on a relatively compact 2.5-acre site and is expected to cost a total of $373 million. When, and if, it is completed, Lucky Dragon will have slightly more than 200 rooms and a 19,000-square-foot casino with 478 slot machines.

There are plans for three restaurants. And we’d damn well better to be able to get potstickers at one of them.

Lucky Dragon Las Vegas

In yin and yang terminology, a dragon is a yang. Please, Lucky Dragon, get built so this Las Vegas blog doesn’t end up feeling like a giant yang.

The Penta Building Group, the folks who transformed the Sahara into SLS Las Vegas, are building the Lucky Dragon.

Word has it the project’s developer, Andrew Fonfa, occupies an entire floor of Allure, his condominium tower next to the casino site, to keep an eye on the Lucky Dragon’s progress.

Lucky Dragon casino

That’s Allure off to the left. We took this photo of the Lucky Dragon hotel tower from a crack house. Interesting neighborhood.

Here’s the awkward Web site for Lucky Dragon Las Vegas.

Given the activity at the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino site, for now, we’re going to set aside our suspicions and indulge in the excitement that comes with the possibility of a new casino resort in Las Vegas.

Book & Stage Closes at Cosmopolitan

It’s curtains for the Book & Stage lounge at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Literally.

The popular spot, which opened as part sportsbook, part bar and part music venue, closed July 12, 2015. It’s currently draped in a black shroud.

Book & Stage Cosmopolitan

Geoffrey Chaucer said, “All good things must come to an end.” Which is probably why Geoffrey Chaucer was never invited to dinner parties.

It didn’t take long for the folks at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas to strip Book & Stage down to its bare bones.

If you have any emotional attachment to Book & Stage, it’s best you avert your eyes from our security breach below. Here’s a peek at Book & Stage now.

Book & Stage demolition

The calm before the liver damage.

On the way in the Book & Stage space is a new lounge concept, Clique.

The architectural firm involved in the new lounge is Leo A Daly, the same firm responsible for the eye-popping Drai’s Beach Club and elegant Giada restaurant, both at The Cromwell, among many others. This bodes well.

Cosmo is making good time, and Clique should be open by September. It’s Las Vegas, after all.

A First Look Inside The Venue in Downtown Las Vegas

A new venue will open soon in downtown Las Vegas and you’re guaranteed to remember the name, The Venue.

It’s been a year since The Venue Las Vegas broke ground across from the Downtown Container Park in the Fremont East district. The shiny new offering is nearing completion and is set to take on conventions, large weddings and other special events such as concerts. There’s also room for a comedy club.

Oh, and there will be new bars. We probably should’ve mentioned that part first.

Here’s a first look inside the Grand Ballroom at The Venue.

Venue Las Vegas Ballroom

The Venue has another location in Scottsdale, Arizona, but this one’s better. Because Las Vegas. Try and keep up.

The Venue has nine distinct spaces, with nearly 39,000-square-feet of space in all. The Venue can hold up to 2,700 people.

David Twigger, Vice President of The Venue, said, “The Venue is going to be the premier event space for downtown Las Vegas.”

Twigger continued, “Seriously, that is not a made-up name. My advice would be to pronounce it very, very carefully unless you have excellent health insurance.”

He might not have said that last part, but we get the feeling he’s had to at some point.

The Venue

Early reports stated The Venue was being financed by Downtown Project (or, rather, 700 Fremont LLC, involving some of the same players), but it’s not listed among those Downtown Project admits to owning or financing.

So, as we said, nine spaces, including two bars.

One’s a rooftop bar and the other is called the VirtueVice (no space) lounge, on The Venue’s first floor.

It’s still being finished, but that didn’t stop us from sneaking a photo.

The Venue Las Vegas

Fair warning, The Venue, stock up on Captain Morgan.

The new bars are expected to open Sep. 3, 2015, and will be open weekends only (Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. on) to see how things go.

You can see all the details about The Venue on the official site.

Beyond the prosaic name of the place (naming things is hard), we’ve been curious to see how this shiny new offering will do. Downtown’s been experiencing some growing pains in recent months, but The Venue seems to be a good fit for an area in dire need of space for larger conventions and events.

The Venue is offering a 2% commission for referrals, so tell your friends and make some bank, or whatever the kids are calling it.

Venue Las Vegas

If you hold your convention at The Venue, tell them we sent you. Spiced rum doesn’t pay for itself.

At the very least, we’ll give the bars a try! Which might just be the understatement of the year.

Suzanne Fizzles: Suzanne Somers Show Closes at Westgate Las Vegas

“Suzanne Sizzles,” the show starring “Three’s Company” and Thigh Master infomercial star Suzanne Somers, has closed at Westgate Las Vegas.

The show has been on a hiatus, scheduled to return on Sep. 15, 2015, but has instead been put out of its misery during the show’s break, probably to minimize continued financial losses and to help the 68-year-old Somers exit gracefully.

Suzanne Sizzles

Others may think it, but only we take the time to pirate the appropriate fonts.

The show opened at Westgate on May 23, 2015.

The untimely end of “Suzanne Sizzles” at Westgate was reported by the Las Vegas Sun’s Robin Leach.

Leach quotes Suzanne Somers as saying “the timing was off” and “it was just not the right fit.” Because in Las Vegas, it’s virtually impossible for performers and producers to form the simple phrase, “It tanked.”

Further laughable spin includes Leach claiming, “Suzanne will probably return with a new TV talk show project live from Las Vegas. She’s been in negotiations with a major Hollywood production team for a new program to tie in with her Las Vegas show when it resumes.”

The horseshit floweth deeply in Las Vegas, folks. Unless there’s a community access channel in Las Vegas we don’t know about, don’t hold your breath, Suzanne fans.

As one show closes at Westgate (well, two, an Elvis tribute show recently closed as well), another opens soon. Exotic cat magician Dirk Arthur, formerly of Riviera and O’Sheas (back when it was a casino), opens his show, “Dirk Arthur Wild Magic,” on Aug. 24, 2015.

Dirk Arthur

“Whatever it is, we’re against it.” ~PETA

Lots of changes are in the works at Westgate, and it appears the ownership is grappling with the reality running a hotel-casino is dramatically different than selling timeshares.

Westgate’s Edge Steakhouse opened recently with a new Italian restaurant in the works.

We wish Suzanne Somers and her thighs all the best!

Vegas Chatter Goes Silent and Vegas Seems a Lot Less Vegas

Popular Las Vegas Web site Vegas Chatter has gone silent, leaving a void where once was news, insight and a vibrant online community.

The last day of operation for Vegas Chatter was July 31, 2015. The site, which operated under the umbrella of Conde Nast, was shut down after a shake-up within the massive media company that includes brands like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

The internal struggles at Conde Nast have had far-reaching effects, but the closure of Vegas Chatter is the only one we care about because, well, Las Vegas.

Vegas Chatter

Vegas Chatter chronicled Las Vegas, from the monumental to the mundane, morning to night. It was, in our opinion, the second best Las Vegas Web site, ever, mainly because we have an inflated view of ourselves. You didn’t already get that from the first person plural thing?

Vegas Chatter was the most popular Las Vegas Web site of its kind, with the most traffic, several times over. Yes, even more than we get, and we get a metric ass-ton.

It was more than a site, however. It was a communityvast, passionate and, you know, vital.

“Vital” isn’t a word we use lightly, either. The news on Vegas Chatter was essential reading for Las Vegas travelers. We also use the word because we’ve heard on many occasions readers considered Vegas Chatter and Vital Vegas complementary to each other, “sister sites” if you will. We’ve always taken that feedback as the highest of compliments.

The Vegas Chatter community existed not only on a Web site, but in other forums as well. Vegas Chatter has nearly 46,000 fans on Facebook, more than 20,000 followers on Twitter and more than 2,000 followers on Instagram.

Vegas Chatter

Vegas Chatter was like an IV drip of Vegas goodness.

That community was essential to Vegas Chatter’s success. Tipsters delivered gold each day, and the site’s contributing writers were often plucked from the community’s ranks.

The writers for the site were, for the most part, volunteers. They were given a small stipend of $15-20 for each published article, but it was clear the writers built Vegas Chatter into a powerhouse site because they were, and are, passionate about Las Vegas.

Vegas Chatter truly shined under the guiding hand of former editor Rebecca Frisch (pictured below). Frisch has since moved on to a new life in Snoqualmie, Washington, wherever the hell that might actually be.

Frisch turned the challenge of covering a travel destination into a game which she dominated, despite our best efforts.

Ours was a relationship of friendship as well as friendly competition. Being the first to share a story, or getting an exclusive, was a source of pride for each of us. It’s like that mountain man said in “Jeremiah Johnson.” He said, “a tribe’s greatness is figured on how mighty its enemies be.” Which doesn’t really apply since there were no enemies involved, but we loved that movie, and you get the point.

Vegas Chatter

Thanks to you both, for everything. More from Juliana Shallcross in a minute.

Vegas Chatter did have its detractors, though. If you do anything on the Internet, you have to attract haters. It’s the law. Frisch and her team always handled trolls with grace. You get to have an opinion about a thing when you can do it better, and few have or will.

We’ll always be in the debt of Rebecca Frisch and Vegas Chatter, for several reasons, but especially because the site showed frequent generosity by linking to our site, and others, to give credit where it was due. Less enlightened sites often don’t link out to other sites, under the false impression such outgoing links send visitors away. Frisch understood the importance of linking to sources and sent untold traffic our way. We tried to do the same in return, but it was always a lopsided relationship.

Specifically, since we launched our site in July of 2013, more than 29,000 visits to Vital Vegas have come through links on Vegas Chatter.

The shock of Frisch’s departure barely had time to sink in and now Vegas Chatter fans are dealing with another blow. Our daily ritual of checking the non-stop flow of news has suddenly turned into the sound of crickets. Crickets don’t know a damned thing about Las Vegas shows, hotels, restaurants and construction walls.

The one truth about Las Vegas, of course, is the only constant is change. We honestly never thought we’d be saying that about Vegas Chatter, but we are.

Vegas Chatter is being absorbed into another Web site, CNTraveler.com. The good folks at Conde Nast would like that to provide consolation, but it doesn’t, of course.

Brad Rickman, Digital Director at Conde Nast Traveler (CNT), said, “As CNT’s identity has evolved and our digital presence has grown and matured, it seems wisest to consolidate efforts and resources toward growing one travel business rather than four. We’ve expanded our digital editorial team and extended the network of contributors with whom we work.” In other words, the decision to shutter Vegas Chatter might be good business, but that doesn’t make it sting any less.

Rickman says that while no new content will be produced for Vegas Chatter, the site’s existing articles will continue to be accessible “in an archival state.” At the moment, the site is still live, with a notation across the top: “Archive only, fresh content at CNTraveler.com.”

Update (10/5/15): Vegas Chatter has been taken offline completely.

It’s worth noting this blog is definitely not going to be the one to point out how awkward the initialism “CNT” is.

Vegas Chatter

Even these cupcakes are sad about Vegas Chatter closing up shop and cupcakes are the most emotionally resilient of all baked goods.

Another friend of ours, Juliana Shallcross, was the Managing Editor of Vegas Chatter (and Hotel Chatter), and she commented, “We’ve had an amazing run and the good far outweighs the bad. We created a thriving community of Vegas visitors and Vegas locals that was unlike any other. I was lucky enough to work with some of the best people, both in and out of Vegas, who love this city with all their heart.”

So, now what? For those of us who have followed Vegas Chatter religiously for years, it’s time to seek out new Las Vegas resources. New sites and podcasts and Twitter feeds crop up all the time. They aren’t Vegas Chatter, but we’ll figure something out.

Of late, we’ve been flattered by an influx of readers asking if we’ll be taking up the mantle of Vegas Chatter, our “sister site.” Oh, hell, no, we reply. Just in terms of the sheer quantity of content, Vegas Chatter was in a class all by itself.

We love being a part of the Las Vegas conversation, of course, but our site is a hobby (we have a day job), a place to show off some photography and write some dopey jokes. Generating five or more stories a day, as Vegas Chatter did, is a lot of work. We prefer drinking and frequent naps.

Don't cry

Learn to live with disappointment.

We’d love to snatch up some of the Vegas Chatter writers to contribute to our site, but then it would have less us, and what’s the fun in that? We trust Vegas Chatter’s contributors will find an outlet for their passion. In fact, our friend Marc Meltzer already has with EdgeVegas.com.

Update: Another Las Vegas Web site has, in fact, snapped up several Vegas Chatter writers, and has taken its rightful place as a great source for Las Vegas news, VegasBright.com.

For now, we’re going to kick back and lift a glass of Captain and diet to Vegas Chatter.

Vegas Chatter’s motto was, “So bright you can see it from space.” The good news is that light can’t really be extinguished. Why? Because Vegas Chatter is us, the community of people obsessed with Las Vegas.

You might say Vegas Chatter was like a neon tube. News and opinions were the argon and xenon gas inside. We, all of us, are the electrical current that makes the neon glow. The more we share, the more useful information we impart to others, the more we contribute to the collective magic of Las Vegas, the brighter the light shines!

Which, we realize, is a horrible, horrible metaphor. What, you thought we were going to write an homage to Vegas Chatter sober?