The decade that was
As much of the ’00s as we could handle
Thu, Dec 10, 2009 (midnight)
March 5 Steve Wynn agrees to sell Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand boss Kirk Kerkorian for $6.4 billion.
March 19 Six teens in a work crew on I-15 are killed when a minivan driven by 20-year-old Jessica Williams plows into them from behind. A year later Williams will be sentenced to 18 to 48 years. In 2003, a judge will rule she should get a new trial, but that ruling is overturned.
The story of the quiet wild child/Lil Darlings dancer who had taken Ecstasy and smoked pot some 10 hours before falling asleep at the wheel of her van, killing six teens who were collecting trash on the roadside broke everyone’s heart in one way or another. The kids: Anthony Smith, 14, Scott Garner Jr., 14, Alberto Puig, 16, Maleyna Stoltzfus, 15, Rebeccah Glicken, 15, and Jennifer Booth, 16. Williams herself was 20, and got 18 to 42 years for driving under the influence. Public sentiment was split on Williams, as she claimed she fell asleep and ran off the shoulder, and Clark County took heat for having the teens, who were in a county work program, standing so close to the freeway. For a while, there was a website called Free Jessica where people could write in with sympathy for the driver; but Williams is still in prison, serving time for Clark County’s worst vehicular crime in history. –STACY J. WILLIS
May 19 Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish are found guilty in the 1998 murder of Ted Binion. Both are given life with the possibility of parole. In November 2004, they are acquitted of the murder, but still have to serve sentences after being convicted on charges of burglary, grand larceny and conspiracy to commit burglary.
June 20 Mandalay Bay unveils Shark Reef.
July Nevada registers its 2 millionth resident. Let the traffic snarls begin!
August 8 County Commission approves plans for a Strip monorail to be built with $650 million in state-issued bonds.
August 11 Las Vegan Jonathan Burton, 19, is killed by his fellow passengers on a Southwest flight after he tries to break into the cockpit. He’s badly beaten and suffocated.
August 18 Rebuilt Aladdin opens.
August 28 Desert Inn closes.
October 3 El Rancho—first implosion of the new millennium!
October 6 CSI premieres on CBS.
WHICH WAS BETTER, CSI OR LAS VEGAS? On CSI, Las Vegas is a town where real people do real police work, where grisly murders happen but are also competently solved, where high-tech gizmos ensure that justice is served. On Las Vegas, the town is an over-the-top amusement park filled with hot women in skimpy attire, eccentric billionaires, explosions, faked deaths and James Caan. As responsible Clark County citizens, we clearly preferred Las Vegas. –JOSH BELL
October 18 City authorizes purchase of a 61-acre Downtown property. Let the incredibly slow master-planning begin!
November 7 Voters pass by more than two-thirds a ballot measure to prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. It still requires a second approval by voters.
November 7 In what would decide the 2000 presidential election, Nevada cast its last four electoral votes for George W. Bush, giving him 271, one more than needed to win. Nevada was the last state in the nation to cast ballots for Bush.
November 13 State Ethics Commission approves a full hearing into allegations that Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald, found guilty of ethics charges by a city review board earlier in the month, also violated state ethics laws.
December 12 Amid sanctions for NCAA violations over the recruitment of Lamar Odom, UNLV fires men’s basketball coach Bill Bayno.
December 19 The Las Vegas Stars, the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, becomes a Dodgers farm team and changes its name to the 51s.
In a fit of brilliance, the kind of brilliance you have to be really special to understand, our minor league team owners changed the acceptably named Stars to the WTF name the 51s, after Area 51, which is a plot of military land 80 miles away, not known for baseball but alleged to be inhabited by alien research crews or somesuch. We got an alien thing as a mascot, and a place in Bad Team Names of All Time that rivals the Scottsdale Community College Artichokes, whose pink and green uniforms were created as a joke. –STACY J. WILLIS
January Former Nevada Athletic Commission member Lorenzo Fertitta purchases the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise.
January 3 John Ensign takes the oath as Nevada Senator. Let the mediocre statesmanship, future affairs and incessant hair jokes begin!
January 20 The first nationally televised XFL game is played at Sam Boyd Stadium. Perhaps surprisingly, the Las Vegas Outlaws will play their final game in June.
January 28 Howard Stern’s challenge to find a casino that would accept a $1 million blackjack bet falls flat. Still, he does bet $100,000 at the Hard Rock Hotel on a single blackjack hand—and wins! The proceeds go to charity.
February 15 For the first time in the 137-year history of Nevada’s state Assembly, a black assemblyman, Wendell Williams, serves as speaker, and a gay legislator, David Parks, holds the majority floor leader’s post.
February 26 Siegfried & Roy sign a lifetime contract at The Mirage.
March 2 Opening statements begin in the trial of Margaret Rudin, charged in the December 1994 shooting death of her husband, a millionaire developer whose charred remains were found in a ravine near Lake Mohave. He had been shot in the head and then decapitated. A jury finds Rudin guilty in May.
March 7 Lawmakers notify Congress and President Bush of Nevada’s objection to Yucca Mountain.
April 19 State Ethics Commission clears County Commissioner Erin Kenny of wrongdoing. She was accused of discussing a break-in at the county’s administration building to hurt a political rival. It’s the beginning of a bumpy decade for Kenny.
March 22 Storm debuts at Mandalay Bay. It’s one of the city’s most critically drubbed productions ever.
March 29 Charlie Spoonhour hired as new UNLV men’s basketball coach.
July 23 The Nevada Athletic Commission approves mixed martial arts for competition, paving the way for UFC’s meteoric rise.
July 31 Rick Springfield breaks his arm during a performance of EFX Alive at MGM Grand.
August 30 Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy opens.
September Las Vegas becomes the hardest-hit city economically in the wake of 9/11. Passenger traffic at McCarran drops by 28 percent for the month, and occupancy in Strip hotels plummets to less than 50 percent. Hundreds of conventions are canceled, costing the city untold millions. Staff layoffs number in the thousands. Checkpoints are installed within a mile on either side of Hoover Dam, checkpoints which continue to this day. It takes most of Las Vegas’ publicly traded casino operating companies nearly a year to rebound. Nevada’s jobless rate tops out at 6.6 percent. It’s later revealed that some of the terrorists involved in the attack stayed on and off in Las Vegas from May to August, including at an Econo Lodge.
September 28 The Aladdin, which had been struggling long before 9/11, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
October 21 Art critic and UNLV professor Dave Hickey wins prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship—the genius award—which includes $500,000.
October 23 Desert Inn imploded.
November 12 The Bellagio begins a fine tradition when it becomes the first hotel-casino in the country to receive AAA’s Five-Diamond Award.
November 15 Palms Hotel and Casino opens.
November UNLV Law professor Jay Bybee takes a position in the Bush administration as assistant attorney general. He will later author a controversial “torture memo.”
December 5 Ocean’s 11 premieres.
December 18 Amid the bust surrounding 9/11, Green Valley Ranch opens.
January 10 Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recommends Yucca Mountain to President Bush as the world’s first repository for nuclear waste.
January 29 Embattled former boxing champion Mike Tyson denied a license by the Nevada Athletic Commission, derailing his planned challenge against WBO and IBO champion Lennox Lewis. Tyson eventually gets a boxing license in Tennessee. He fights Lewis there in June and is knocked out in the eighth round. In February, prosecutors announce they will not file sexual assault charges against Mike Tyson. Two women had alleged he raped them at his Las Vegas home.
February 15 President Bush selects Yucca Mountain as the nation’s nuclear waste site. Let the acrimonious mingling of science and politics begin!
April 27 The annual River Run turns deadly, as a Hells Angels/Mongols showdown leaves three people dead in a Laughlin casino.
May 3 Neonopolis, a 250,000-square-foot, $100 million entertainment complex, opens Downtown. Let the carping begin!
June 18 Group seeking to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana submits 107,000 signatures to get it on the November ballot. They needed 61,336. See, potheads CAN get stuff done!
June 24 Steve Wynn signs casino deal with the government of Macau. Gaming business there will become a major theme of the decade.
June 24 Rep. Earl Blumenauer calls for a federal investigation into the Bumfights video, featuring homeless men fighting on the streets of Las Vegas.
June 27 Longtime Who bassist John Entwistle dies in a room at the Hard Rock Hotel, of an apparent heart attack induced by cocaine use, the night before a scheduled show.
July 2 Penn & Teller sign two-year agreement with the Rio. They will remain for much longer than that.
July Nevada State Medical Society announces that medical malpractice costs have resulted in more than 215 doctors retiring or closing their practices in Nevada.
August 1 In special session, legislators come up with a bill that will put a cap of $350,000 on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases in an attempt to compromise with doctors. Gov. Kenny Guinn signs the bill into law later in the month.
August 15 Trial of City Councilman Michael Mack begins. Mack was charged with violating the city’s ethics code for casting votes involving a car dealer whom he owed $57,000. Later that month, he’s found not guilty.
September 17 The Real World Las Vegas premieres on MTV.
Build a huge suite in your risky new hotel-casino just for some MTV reality show that caters to voyeuristic teens? Populate it with drunken idiots who will ruin your image on national TV? What kind of horrible idea is that? Answer: The horrible idea that solidified the Palms as the cool place for young people to party in Las Vegas, and was instrumental in the rise of Vegas nightlife culture, creating a whole new generation of Sin City devotees. –JOSH BELL
September 23 Gov. Kenny Guinn makes indirect statement on Nevada’s health-care situation when he goes out of state for prostate cancer surgery.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO KENNY GUINN? The former Republican governor (1999-2007), sometimes derided as a tax-hiking stiff while in office, seems a little more lovely now that we’ve experienced Jim Gibbons. Was he cardboard-ish? Delightfully so. Did he put his wife in the maid’s quarters and run hog wild with power and incapacity? Not so much. Was he a RINO (Republican in Name Only)? Who cares. Today Guinn is retired, bouncing back and forth between Reno and Vegas, and serving on the MGM Mirage board. Thus, he showed off his still wondrously inanimate facade at the opening of CityCenter and made us miss his comfortably bland leadership. –STACY J. WILLIS
October 4 The first First Friday.
October 12 Mayor Oscar Goodman accepts $100,000 from Bombay Sapphire gin to become a spokesman. The money is donated to charity. Let the media clichés begin (well, continue)!
November 1 First Vegas Valley Book Festival is held in Henderson and includes authors John Irving and Tom Robbins.
November 5 Voters approve a ballot measure amending the constitution of Nevada to ban gay marriage. In 2009, the Nevada Legislature will pass a bill to give same-sex unions the same benefits as married couples.
November 5 Voters also reject a ballot measure legalizing possession of 3 ounces or less of marijuana.
November 20 Judge upholds City Council decision to deny Stratosphere’s proposal to build 510-foot roller coaster. Residents said the project would impact their quality of life.
November 30 Double Down Saloon celebrates 10th anniversary.
December 26 Peppermill Inn Restaur-ant celebrates 30th anniversary.
January 14 National Football League declines to air Las Vegas tourism commercial during Super Bowl. Let the mildly exaggerated civic outrage begin!
January 22 Tragedy in Mesquite: Beau Maestas, 18, and his sister, Monique, 16, stab 3-year old Kristyanna Cowan to death and critically wound her 10-year-old sister, Brittney Bergeron, over $125 dispute with victims’ mother. Beau is sentenced to death in August 2003, and Monique is sentenced to 47 years.
February Governing magazine ranks Nevada as the worst state for the fairness and management of its tax system. Filed under No Shit.
March 11 Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas opens.
February R&R Partners creates the “What Happens Here Stays Here” campaign, quickly nailing the city’s appeal for a national audience while simultaneously unleashing a million, decreasingly amusing retaskings of the slogan.
February 2 Arena Football returns to Las Vegas, as the New Jersey Gladiators move to Las Vegas for the 2003 season.
February 13 Mamma Mia! premieres at Mandalay Bay.
March 5 Gov. Kenny Guinn proposes an “amusement tax,” a 7.3 percent tax on such things as movie tickets, professional sports events, video rentals, concerts and more. Predictably, it draws quite a bit of fire.
March 25 Celine Dion’s ... A New Day premieres at Caesars Palace.
March Housing boom begins in earnest, with 1,990 new home sales in March, the highest number ever for that month.
What better time to buy a house than when Vegas seemed to be running out of them! Lines formed around model homes—people got up before the sun to stand in queue to sign a waiting list for an unbuilt parcel, the promise of a new McDesert Matching House. Through the magic of creative lending, they qualified for a two-ton house on a five-ounce income. Not wanting to be left out of any passing wave of complete ignorance, I jumped in, skull first. My agent warned me: You can’t just put in an offer at list price, you’ll need to bid over list to have a chance at the Bright New American Future. So I did! To the future! I got qualified over the telephone in the backseat of my agent’s car, put the bid in hours after seeing the house, moved into what ultimately was my financial sinkhole, and lived out the American Dream, 2000s-style: reverse. –STACY J. WILLIS
April 10 Las Vegas hypnotist Marshal Sylver is indicted by grand jury on nine felony counts of theft under false pretenses. He offered finance classes and promised a money-back guarantee if clients couldn’t double the fee—between $4,500 and $6,000—within three months. His trial ends with a deadlocked jury; it hasn’t been retried.
April 23 Aladdin creditors select $635 million bid by group of investors fronted by Planet Hollywood.
May 14 Agents of the FBI and Metro raid Michael Galardi’s strip clubs in Las Vegas as part of Operation G-Sting, a two-year probe into political corruption. The allegations are that Galardi is funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to public officials in return for favorable treatment from the Clark County Commission. Search warrants are served on Erin Kenny, Dario Herrera, Lance Malone, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and then-Las Vegas City Councilman Michael McDonald. In the end, Kenny, Kincaid-Chauncey and Galardi will all be sentenced to 30 months in prison; Herrera gets 50 months; Malone gets 72 months.
May 24 Amateur Chris Moneymaker wins the World Series of Poker’s Main Event, setting off a worldwide poker boom.
July 24 City officials issue a misdemeanor citation to Michael Burdick for doing business without a license. Burdick is the creator of the Hunting for Bambi videos, in which men hunt naked women with paintball guns in the Las Vegas desert. Burdick got a lot of mileage with the story before it’s revealed the whole thing is a hoax intended to sell videos. The scariest part? People were actually trying to schedule hunts!
September 30 Zumanity premieres at New York-New York.
September 22 Las Vegas debuts on NBC.
October 3 Roy Horn is critically injured when attacked by Montecore, one of the white tigers in the Siegfried & Roy show, during a performance.
October 21 The Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team debuts in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena. They beat the Bakersfield Condors 4-2.
November 20 Michael Jackson, after posting bail on child-molestation charges in California, arrives at Henderson Airport and takes a bizarre, slow, two-hour trip around the Valley, accompanied by a media scrum, before arriving at Green Valley Ranch. Along the way, fans run into the street to shake Jackson’s hand.
December For the year, new-home sales in Las Vegas achieve record year of more than 24,000, shattering the record of 22,940 in 2001.
January 3 Britney Spears marries Jason Allen Alexander at Little White Wedding Chapel. The marriage lasts 55 hours.
January 22 Harrah’s buys Binion’s Horseshoe. The following year, the World Series of Poker will move from Binion’s to the Rio.
February 13 Elton John begins his Red Piano show at Caesars Palace.
March 5 Mike O’Callaghan, former Nevada governor and Las Vegas Sun executive editor, dies.
March 15 UNLV hires Lon Kruger as its head basketball coach.
June 9 The Beastie Boys play an MTV $2Bill show (that’s right, tickets sell for $2) at the Huntridge Theatre.
June 15 The Killers release their major-label debut, Hot Fuss.
Rag on The Killers if you want (Lord knows, we have), just don’t hate on Hot Fuss. Even if you don’t admit it to friends and family, you know you still light up inside when you hear those hits: “Somebody Told Me,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Smile Like You Mean It” and, especially, “Mr. Brightside.” Chalking the quartet’s quick success up to timing, connections or a look discredits the songwriting prowess showcased on that first album. Whatever they’ve done—or haven’t—since, with Hot Fuss The Killers achieved something pretty remarkable—they managed to put Las Vegas on the modern music map. –SPENCER PATTERSON
July 15 Monorail opens. Let the carping begin!
July 17 Linda Ronstadt praises filmmaker Michael Moore during an Aladdin performance, reportedly sending Bush supporters to the exits. She is reportedly escorted from the premises.
July 30 Dimmu Borgir, Bleeding Through and God Forbid play the final show at the historic Huntridge. Let the rueful nostalgia begin!
August 31 NBC premieres Father of the Pride, a CGI comedy featuring Siegfried & Roy’s tigers. It is an unmitigated critical and commercial disaster.
November KA premieres at the MGM Grand.
November 20 Former NFL and USC football coach John Robinson coaches his final game with UNLV.
December 6 UNLV hires Mike Sanford to replace Robinson.
January Construction begins on the Hoover Dam bypass project.
March 3 Mayor Oscar Goodman is asked by a group of fourth-graders what he would take with him to a desert island. He responds, “a bottle of gin.” Let the carping begin!
April 28 Wynn Las Vegas opens. Le Reve premieres.
July 2 Las Vegas celebrates its centennial with a free concert featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer at the Silver Bowl. A reported 50,000 attend.
August 27 Avenue Q opens at Wynn Las Vegas. It closes in February.
September 27 Panic! At the Disco releases its major-label debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
October 29-30 Dave Matthews, Beck and the Arcade Fire play the first Vegoose festival.
November 2 Mayor Oscar Goodman suggests that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.
December 14 The body of 28-year-old Melissa James is found dead in the burned Jaguar of bodybuilders Craig Titus and his wife, Kelly Ryan. Titus and Ryan are arrested in Massachusetts later that month. In August 2008, Titus, after pleading guilty, is sentenced to 21 to 55 years in prison. Ryan is sentenced to two consecutive terms of 3-13 years in prison.
Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan were beautiful people. They were respected health celebrities who had money, hot women, drugs and complete adoration from their groupies on the Vegas party circuit. But in their personal lives, the drug use was out of control. The couple’s personal assistant was found dead in their torched-out Jaguar, there were allegations of a love triangle and Titus was accused of trying to orchestrate a murder-for-hire plot. It’s a celebrity murder case that rivals few others in Vegas. –GLENN PUIT (Glenn Puit is the author of Fire in the Desert: The True Story of the Craig Titus-Kelly Ryan Murder Mystery. His website is kingoftruecrime.com.
December 31 Pure Nightclub opens at Caesars Palace—and nothing about Vegas nightlife will be the same.
February 15 Hairspray debuts at Luxor. It closes in June.
April 15 A surveillance camera at an MGM Grand parking garage captures footage of a man being viciously attacked by more than 15 youths. He suffers a broken jaw and collarbone in the attack.
April 18 Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa opens.
May 9 Boardwalk Casino imploded to make way for CityCenter. Ground breaks on the massive project shortly afterward.
June 13 An arrest warrant is issued for Clark County Recorder Frances Deane on 19 felony counts. Deane allegedly sold real-estate documents and used the money to buy a plasma-screen TV. Her case has been ongoing ever since. She entered a guilty plea this past August.
June 24 Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular opens at the Venetian.
June 30 Love premieres at The Mirage.
July 8 State Controller Kathy Augustine dies. Her husband, Chaz Higgs, will be convicted of murder in 2007.
People remember Kathy Augustine as a cutthroat politician who was murdered, but her story is far more compelling than that. Kathy was a mom who started in politics when a friend, on a whim, urged her to do so, and within 15 years—through sheer determination—she was on the fringes of true power. Her nomination for U.S. Treasurer was cut short by a political scandal and her whirlwind marriage to her dying husband’s nurse, Chaz Higgs. Higgs then poisoned Kathy with the perfect murder weapon—a drug that is nearly undetectable in the human body. –GLENN PUIT (Glenn Puit is the author of In Her Prime: The Murder of a Political Star. His website is kingoftruecrime.com.
July 19 City ordinance makes it illegal to provide food to homeless in Las Vegas parks.
October 3 The Killers release second album Sam’s Town. Let the critical barbs begin!
October 13 Cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo alleges Gov. Jim Gibbons assaulted her in a parking garage.
September 3 Andre Agassi retires, having won eight Grand Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal and a career grand slam (one of only six to do so).
November 7 Voters pass the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act, effectively banning smoking from most public places, including bars that serve food.
November 10 Prince begins a residency at the Rio, which runs through April.
February 9 Construction begins on the Lou Ruvo Brain Center. The building features a controversial crumpling design by architecture star Frank Gehry. Let the carping begin!
February 9 The Producers premieres at Paris Las Vegas. It closes the following February.
February 13 Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes makes national headlines by playing part of his band’s Art Bar set sans clothing.
March-April Jim Gibbons uses his state-owned cell phone to send 860 texts to a woman not his wife from March to April.
March 13 Stardust imploded.
March 17 The Palms’ new music venue, the Pearl, opens with a concert headlined by Evanescence.
March 18 UNLV’s basketball team reaches the Sweet 16 with a win over No. 2 Wisconsin. They would go on to lose to Kansas.
March 31 Spamalot premieres at Wynn Las Vegas. It closes July 2008.
May 7 Homemade bomb explodes at the Luxor parking garage, killing a man. Later that month, two men, Omar Rueda-Denvers and Porfiro Duarte-Herrera, are arrested in connection with the bombing and found guilty of first-degree murder in September 2009. The jury chooses life in prison instead of the death penalty.
June 8 Springs Preserve opens. Let the widespread non-visiting begin!
June 8 Ocean’s 13 released.
September 9 Britney Spears attempts disastrous comeback at the MTV Video Awards at the Palms.
September 16 O.J. Simpson arrested after he allegedly commits armed robbery at a hotel room at Palace Station on September 13. In October 2008, he is found guilty of all 12 charges and sentenced to nine years in prison.
October 26-27 Rage Against the Machine, Daft Punk, Muse and Iggy & The Stooges play the third and final Vegoose festival.
It might have been a dream—all those acts, playing in a field in Las Vegas. Daft Punk, the Arcade Fire, Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Tom Petty, The Meters, Beck, Cat Power, The Roots and oh so many more. For three years, the fest was everything a serious Vegas music fan could hope for … but apparently there simply aren’t enough serious music fans in Vegas. And so it ended, with promoters’ vague promises of a return that hasn’t come. R.I.P. Vegoose. We loved you while you lasted. –SPENCER PATTERSON
November 13 Frontier imploded.
November 17 Aladdin reopens as Planet Hollywood.
November 25 Quiet Riot singer Kevin DuBrow is found dead in his Las Vegas home, of an apparent cocaine overdose.
December 15 Final performance of Celine Dion’s … A New Day.
January 17 Palazzo opens.
January 22 Beautiful Children, an acclaimed novel about wayward Vegas youth by LV native Charles Bock, is released and heads straight for the New York Times best-seller list.
January 26 Rooftop fire at Monte Carlo causes damage but no deaths.
February 9 More than 1,000 animals are euthanized at the Lied Animal Shelter after contagious diseases break out due to overcrowding.
February 9 An Evening at La Cage closes after 24 years.
February 12 Deshira Selimaj, an ice-cream truck driver, is shot by Henderson police officers. Her husband, Zyber, had been stopped for various traffic violations, and had called her. Police claim Deshira had pulled a knife on one of her own children and then turned it on officers. The shooting was ruled justified.
February 20 IRS agents raid the corporate offices of Pure Management Group and later LAX nightclub, touching off an industry-wide panic and revamping the way business is conducted in clubs and at velvet ropes.
February 20 Bette Midler opens The Showgirl Must Go On at Caesars.
February 27 Syringe reuse at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada puts potentially 40,000 at risk for HIV and hepatitis strains B and C. The Center’s business license is subsequently revoked, and the doors are closed. Owner Dipak Desai is embroiled in a bevy of lawsuits from some patients who claim they tested positive after visiting his center.
March 21 Panic! At the Disco releases its sophomore album, Pretty. Odd.
March 28 Les Folies Bergere packs up its feathers just shy of turning 50.
May 6 Cher opens at Caesars.
October 31 Criss Angel Believe premieres at Luxor. It quickly becomes one of the most critically drubbed shows in Vegas history.
December 9 Hometown hero Greg Maddux retires with 355 wins, a 3.16 ERA, four Cy Young awards, 18 Gold Gloves and a World Series title.
November 18 The Killers release third album Day & Age.
November University Medical Center announces it will close its outpatient oncology program. A $3 million Lincy Foundation grant the following May restores the program.
November 11 Aliante Station Casino opens in North Las Vegas.
December 17 A snowstorm dumps up to 8 inches of snow in the Las Vegas Valley. Flights are delayed, snow days are declared in school.
Shortly before turning left onto Eastern Avenue south from Horizon Ridge Parkway, it hit me: I might not be getting home tonight. The magnitude of the city’s failure to prepare for this sort of occurrence—you know, snow—was unfolding before the very eyes of the thousands of drivers stuck on the vast expanse of Eastern leading into Anthem. By hour four of what was usually a 20-minute drive, abandoned cars became a common sight. By hour six, emergency vehicles were finally getting into the act, although they were helpless to do anything except have their operators get out and help push any still-occupied car stuck in the snow. By hour seven, I was on my own, but with no idea of where the road was. Of course, adrenaline (along with a bladder filled to eight times its capacity) is a great motivator. I was able to park a few blocks from home, just in time to help dozens of others in the same predicament. All it took to get to know my neighbors was 8 inches of snow. Who knew? –KEN MILLER
December 22 Encore opens.
February 6 Mötley Crüe closes the original Joint with a pair of shows. A new Joint opens in April.
February 28 Siegfried & Roy make their final stage appearance at the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute’s “Keep Memory Alive” gala at Bellagio.
February 28 Las Vegas Art Museum closes.
March 1 M Resort opens.
May 15 Lion King premieres at Mandalay Bay
May 1 Danny Gans dies at 52.
May 26 Groundbreaking ceremony for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
June 2 The Hangover premieres.
July 9 The State Gaming Board files a nine-count complaint against Planet Hollywood, citing multiple violations by tenant Prive. Planet Hollywood pays a $500,000 fine and agrees to an additional $250,000 fine if the negative activity were to continue within the next 12 months.
July 17 The Reading Room, Las Vegas’ only independent new book store, closes at Mandalay Place.
August 19 Top Chef Las Vegas premieres on Bravo.
September 26 CineVegas film festival announces indefinite hiatus.
November 16 UNLV fires football coach Mike Sanford.
November 27 The Las Vegas Locomotives, one of four teams nationwide that make up the United Football League, beat the Florida Tuskers 20-17 to win the inaugural UFL championship.
December 2 CityCenter, the hotel/condo/shopping/gaming center and architectural showpiece that involved ... 1. $8.5 billion; 2. a fraught relationship with Dubai World; 3. last-minute financial dealing; 4. a number of construction-related deaths ... begins phased opening, to general acclaim. “Wow,” the R-J gushes. “C’mon, practice saying it with us. Wow.”
December 10 You begin reading this timeline. Let the carping begin!