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Chris Jones

$3.6 Million Invested to Promote Game

12 January 2005

Local travel leaders' decision Tuesday to commit $3.6 million over three years to promote an annual Arena Football League championship weekend illustrates their belief that top-tier special events will play an increased role in luring more visitors to Southern Nevada.

Las Vegas will over the next three seasons serve as the neutral-site host for the 19-year-old league's final game of the season, the ArenaBowl. Las Vegas Events President Pat Christenson said Tuesday his organization hopes to turn the June 12 game at the Thomas & Mack Center into the centerpiece of a themed weekend that will attract thousands of fans from across North America.

"We want to sell out the game and bring lots of people to Las Vegas," Christenson said.

On Tuesday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority got a glimpse of how its multimillion-dollar pledge will be used when Christenson showed a television ad that will debut later this month during NBC telecasts of AFL games.

In the 70-second ad, former NFL star John Elway and musician Jon Bon Jovi, who co-own AFL franchises based in Denver and Philadelphia, respectively, face off in a makeshift football contest set inside the fictional Montecito casino of NBC's television series "Las Vegas." After their players wreck the casino, the two stars take embarrassing jobs to pay for the damages.

The ad can also be viewed online, and at more than 400 movie theaters nationwide.

The promotional combination of sports, music and television stars will make ArenaBowl more appealing to a broad range of potential visitors, Christenson said, adding concerts featuring Bon Jovi and/or country music star and AFL team owner Tim McGraw are also under consideration.

Rossi Ralenkotter, the convention authority's president and chief executive officer, later said that over the next five years Las Vegas must renew its agreement to host the National Finals Rodeo, which is committed here through 2009, as well as add a second NASCAR race to be held each fall at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"I want to set a new bar for us," Ralenkotter said, adding future special events should include television exposure, opportunities to jointly brand both the city and the event, and drive visitors here during otherwise slow travel periods.

In other business Tuesday, the convention authority board welcomed one new member and restructured a few leadership positions.

Newly elected Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins for the first time participated on the convention authority board after he was sworn into the role by District Court Judge Valerie Vega. Collins replaces Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, who lost her bid to return to county office in September's Democratic primary.

Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates also renewed her oath as a board member, and Vega later swore in Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman as the board's new chairman; businessman Robert Forbuss as its vice chairman; and Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson as secretary/treasurer.