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Benjamin Spillman

Limo companies get big assist from All-Star Game

15 February 2007

LAS VEGAS -- Standing in line for a taxicab with tourists in fanny-packs is no way to experience the world capital of conspicuous consumption, especially for people in Las Vegas for the National Basketball Association's All-Star Game.

Limousines are the transport of choice for the NBA crowd, preferably something high-profile like a stretched Cadillac Escalade or Hummer.

That's why the Nevada Transportation Services Authority increased the number of limousines authorized to operate during the All-Star Game Weekend, only the second time in two years the authority raised the limo limit.

"These are clearly extraordinary circumstances when the demand just went through the roof," said Andy McKay, chairman of the authority that regulates limos around the state, including about 1,200 on the streets of Clark County.

Last week the authority authorized up to 77 more limos for the weekend.

The All-Star Game, a major clothing convention and Chinese New Year celebrations will make this weekend a boom time for luxury ride operators.

"Put it this way; we are not making any more reservations," said Jeff Iverson, assistant general manager of Presidential Limousine in Las Vegas.

The company maintains a fleet of more than 40 vehicles, including Escalades and Hummers.

Iverson said the company is sold out for the weekend and has been for more than a month.

The company doesn't publicize the names of clients, but Iverson said some are former NBA players in town for the game.

"Usually they don't book with their real names anyway," he said of current players and other celebrities.

Robert Tuchman, president of New York City-based TSE Sports & Entertainment, said most of the clients he's sending to Las Vegas this week are from the corporate world.

The company specializes in making travel, hotel and ticket arrangements for major events such as the Super Bowl.

For the All-Star Game, TSE sold packages that included a rooms in the Strip's swankiest hotels, tickets, upscale meals and transportation for $3,800.

He said TSE sold more than 250 packages for the All-Star Game, compared with about 50 or 60 last year when the event was in Houston.

"The entire reason is because it is Las Vegas, no doubt about it," he said.

Securing limousines for corporate clients using the packages to impress their best customers was crucial, Tuchman said.

"You don't want just any guy who has a car and calls himself a limousine company," he said. "They have so much on the line with their clients you can't afford to have a limousine not show up or something go wrong."