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Chris Jones

NASCAR Arrives in Vegas

10 March 2006

LAS VEGAS -- NASCAR fans in Southern Nevada don't have to visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway to snag the sport's most popular products.

Just a pit stop away from this city's largest megaresorts, Chicago businessman Steve Deli and his wife, Anne, are offering an extensive array of licensed T-shirts, caps and jackets.

The nation's third NASCAR The Official Store opened Jan. 19 on the Fashion Show mall's first floor. Situated just off the mall's easternmost entrance, the 2,400-square-foot shop is easily visible to pedestrians on the Strip.

"We want to capture markets with high tourist traffic as well as ties to NASCAR -- places with races and tracks," Mike Northrop, director of store operations, said Thursday.

Northrop cited this city's nearly 40 million annual visitors, as well as Las Vegas Motor Speedway, host of Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Nextel Cup event.

"Business has been good here from the jump, but this week is our Christmas, so to speak," Northrop added.

Jim McMichael, senior marketing manager for Fashion Show, called NASCAR the country's fastest-growing sport. For obvious reasons, he welcomes its fans' presence at the mall.

"Its fan base is growing tremendously," McMichael said. "(The store) is a great resource for our local customers and tourists."

The concept is catching on elsewhere. The first NASCAR The Official Store opened in July in Orlando, Fla.; No. 2 dropped on Chicago's tony Michigan Avenue retail district in September.

More will follow by summer's end, including sites in Branson, Mo., and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A second Orlando store is planned, as is another Las Vegas store inside Desert Passage at Aladdin.

Unlike other retailers that carry licensed NASCAR apparel, Northrop said his company sells an exclusive line of T-shirts representing 28 popular drivers.

Store-exclusive caps and jackets will follow in time for the 2007 racing season, he said.

The Deli family's business, American Road Retail, directly licensed the store's rights from the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Another major sports league could soon follow NASCAR's lead in Southern Nevada.

National Basketball Association executives told the Review-Journal last month they're considering placing a league-owned NBA Store in Las Vegas before next year's All-Star events in the city.

Nothing has been decided so far, an NBA spokesman said Thursday.

The world's only NBA Store is on Fifth Avenue in New York City.