Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Rolling The Dice


When I read this headline I was thinking it had to come from The Onion: "Vegas Baby? Arena Envisioned To Draw Pro Team To City."

One quote in particular seemed made up too. "There has never been a better time to create a world-class arena for Las Vegas."

But Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, which is partnering with Harrah's to privately finance an arena there, really did say that and this idea is apparently no joke.

If you haven't heard already, some very crazy people at Harrah's and AEG announced their intentions on Wednesday to privately finance a 20,000-seat arena in hopes of drawing an NHL or NBA team.

Where have these people been? Are they aware that the NHL is the 16th major sport in this country? Are they familiar with the recent story of the gambling ref named Tim Donaghy?

I haven't talked to David Stern in the last couple weeks, but suffice it to say that the Vegas proposal has to be on hold now. And when I say "hold," that's at best.

And if these guys are waiting for an NHL team, there's only one way to blow out the doors. Gambling inside the arena. Prop bets all over the place. Handheld betting devices. Trust me on this one. Guaranteed sellout every game. Best attendance in the league.

If that can't happen, Harrah's is better off building something else that can draw a crowd. How about the world's largest flowing chocolate fondue fountain?

On this arena news, I'd say start selling Harrah's stock. Decisions like this make me wary of other decisions their top dogs make. But that's for Apollo Management and Texas Pacific to worry about. The two private equity firms have agreed to acquire Harrah's group of casinos
for $17 billion.