March Madness back in Vegas
Two years after stay-at-home order, Las Vegas is back, and judging by the lines at airports, hotels and rideshare pick-up locations, so is the tourism industry.
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1. Walking around a bustling Las Vegas Thursday, I couldn’t help but think back to what the city looked like two years ago when Nevada governor Steve Sisolak directed all Nevadans to stay home and for all nonessential businesses such as casinos to close to the public for 30 days. It was supposed to be one of the busiest days of the year for Las Vegas – March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day – and Las Vegas was a ghost town.
Two years later, Las Vegas is back and judging by the crowds and lines at airports, hotels and ride share pick-up locations, so is the tourism industry.
2. I’m in Las Vegas this weekend for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament to do my radio show live from Circa. (We’re doing the show from the free third floor viewing party if you want to say hello.) The show is on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles and 98.5 The Fan in Las Vegas. When I first started doing the show in both markets, I was asked how I serve fans in L.A. and Vegas and I responded by saying I’ve always viewed Las Vegas as an extension of Los Angeles as a sports town. That may soon change, of course, with Las Vegas becoming its own sports city with teams in the NFL, NHL and WNBA but Las Vegas’ most popular sports teams outside of hockey – Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders – are arguably the same as in Los Angeles and it has been that way for years and will likely be the case for the foreseeable future.
Los Angeles, like Las Vegas, might get knocked nationally for being a fickle sports town that only supports winners with plenty of competition for fans’ entertainment dollar. I’ve always felt that was a blessing for sports fans there. Teams know they have to go all-in every year, bring in the biggest names and field a championship squad if they want to attract fans. That’s exactly what the Dodgers and Raiders did this week.
3. The Dodgers and Freddie Freeman have agreed to a six-year, $162 million deal that brings the 2021 World Series champion and 2020 National League Most Valuable Player back home to Southern California. The Dodgers have fielded the most talented team in baseball for the past five years but the team that will open this season is next level. It’s a damn cheat code. Look at this lineup:
1. Mookie Betts – RF
2. Trea Turner – SS
3. Freddie Freeman – 1B
4. Will Smith – C
5. Max Muncy – 2B
6. Justin Turner – 3B
7. Cody Bellinger – CF
8. Chris Taylor – LF
9. A.J. Pollock – DH
The easiest bet in Las Vegas right now might be taking the over on the Dodgers’ win total, which is 96.5. The Dodgers won 106 games last season, would have won at least 106 games in 2020 if a full season was played (they won over 71% of the games played), and won 106 games in 2019. This team will win over 96 games this season.
4. The Las Vegas Raiders shocked the NFL on Thursday when they traded their 2022 first and second round picks to the Green Bay Packers for First Team All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. The Raiders then agreed on a five-year, $141.25 million contract with Adams, making him the highest paid wide receiver in NFL history.
The trade reunites Carr with Adams, who were teammates at Fresno State. Both players have talked about reuniting as early as last summer when Adams told Bri Mellon from ABC in Fresno, “I love Derek to death. We’ve got a great friendship and we still communicate consistently. He’s one of my best friends. Obviously, it would be a dream to be able to play with him."
5. The Rams and Chargers have also continued to go all-in this offseason with the Chargers adding Pro Bowl pass rusher Khalil Mack, Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson and defensive linemen Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day to a team that already had six Pro Bowl players. Meanwhile the Rams signed wide receiver Allen Robinson to a three-year, $45 million deal that included $30 million guaranteed.
The idea of McVay going into next season with Robinson, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. at wide receiver led to some pretty funny tweets.
6. Happy anniversary to the greatest fax in the history of faxes when Michael Jordan announced his return to the Chicago Bulls and the NBA on March 18, 1995.
7. Here are some odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today brought to you by Circa Sports.
8. Here’s the local pro sports schedule for today brought to you by Yaamava’.
4:30 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors – Spectrum SportsNet
6:00 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz – Bally Sports SoCal
7:00 p.m. Florida Panthers at Anaheim Ducks – Bally Sports West
9. Here are the “get in” price for a ticket on TickPick if you want to go to a game today.
Florida Panthers at Anaheim Ducks – $8
10. On Thursday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we were live from Circa in Las Vegas for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and also talked to Nick Hamilton about the state of the Lakers and Clippers and March Madness predictions on USC and UCLA.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Southern California following The Rich Eisen Show and on 98.5 The Fan in Las Vegas following The Jim Rome Show. The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio has one of the strongest radio signals in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies” and 98.5 The Fan is the home of college football and the Los Angeles Chargers in Las Vegas. You can listen to The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio anywhere with your free TuneIn app or ask your smart speaker to “Play The Mightier 1090.” You can listen to 98.5 The Fan anywhere with your free Audacy app or ask your smart speaker to “Play The Fan Las Vegas.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and BLEAV.
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