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Manu’s Las Vegas Diary: All Shook Up

The second in a three-part series talking about the Vegas stop in Juve’s U.S. tour.

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Juventus Training Session Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images


Thursday, July 21, 10:02 a.m.

After sleeping late on Wednesday due to the obligatory night time Las Vegas Strip walk on Wednesday, your correspondent is tired but ready to go to the next obligatory visit in the hotter-by-the-minute, betting capital of the world.

No, not actual betting yet, though that will happen in due time, but shopping. Located just a few minutes away from the Strip — and Allegiant Stadium where the Juventus-Chivas proceedings will be held Friday night — you can find the prestigious South Las Vegas Premium Outlets.

(Premium is right in the name!)

After having a breakfast consisting of a burrito the size of a baby’s arm — even in the most mundane things Las Vegas seems to be eager to give you the most decadent option every time — we entered the magical world of outlet shopping. I really, legitimately did not want to spend a lot of money. I thought that if I found a nice shirt or something I’d consider it, but I really didn’t need anything per se.

I was convinced we could walk in and out in a couple hours tops.

That was the first mistake. Because outlet shopping in Vegas is not about needing stuff, it’s about generating the need as soon as you walk in the first store. I honestly did not need, nor want, nor thought about finding a commemorative hat for my beloved 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, but it was there and it was only t10 bucks — original retail price $35 — and that team was so fun and God how did we trade Mookie Betts are you kidding me? Sure, I’ll buy it.

Such a fun team, such a good run, great use of $10.

We are still in 100-plus-degree weather in Vegas, but when you find a wool designer brand winter coat at literally 85% off you rationalize it for yourself. “I don’t need it right now, but I will need it at some point in the future and when that moment comes I will be glad I bought it at this outrageously cheap price.”

(The smartest thing people at these outlets do is to let you know very clearly what the original price was, so you feel like you’re getting away with something even when you’re still probably getting fleeced.)

A Nike Kenya Olympic Running team windbreaker at 90% off? Well, I’d be foolish not to honestly. Designer flip flops for 19.99? How could I not. These are marathon-level running shoes, they retail well over $200 and you are telling me I can get them right now for 50 smackers? Who cares that I run 5-to-10Ks recreationally every couple of months tops, it doesn’t matter that getting running shoes this good is ridiculous overkill for the amount of running I actually do, they are cheap and the sole is made out of the same rubber they use in Continental tires. I’ll take them, please and thank you.

(I couldn’t tell you for sure if the fact that the sole is designed by Continental tires is a good thing, but it sure as hell feels that way for an amateur like myself. If there are any runners in the comments let me know if this is a good thing.)

Slowly, but surely, the girlfriend — someone who also wanted literally two button down shirts and nothing else when we walked in — accumulated bags of “deals” that we’ll be ruing when the credit card bill comes in in a week or so, but that for now seem like getting away with murder they are so good.

Thursday, July 21, 2:02 p.m.

As we take a break to rest after the initial stage of our shopping spree, I’m a bit bummed out that I still haven’t seen one single person wearing a Juve kit. Not only no Juve kits to be seen, but really no kits at all from the participating teams in the upcoming games. Hell, I’ve seen a couple of Bayern Munich jerseys and they are not even playing here.

I have to admit to being disappointed by this. From previous experience I know Las Vegas to be a very event driven city, whenever something big is happening you can immediately tell as you walk the Strip. With big advertisements everywhere, or fun fan experiences for people, that sort of stuff. I came for work to an NFL convention one time — we were maybe 300 or 400 people tops — and they had the fake Caesar statue at Caesar’s Palace wearing an NFL logo shirt. Yet, so far, absolutely nothing for the Soccer Champions Tour.

I’m wearing a Juve kit today — mostly because it’s very breathable and the heat continues to be brutal — but also to see if I run into any other Bianconeri supporters. I was starting to lose hope when we walked into a store selling boxing and contact sports gear and was immediately greeted by the person running the store with a “Hey! That’s my team!”

Up came to greet us Gustavo — who we quickly learned is also Mexican and switched to Spanish — a Juve fan that very quickly let us know he didn’t root for them just because of Ronaldo like many people assume these days. We had a pleasant conversation about the team, his store, how he got tickets to the game and how we hope the team does this year. Just as we walked out of his store after exchanging information, a gentleman wearing a Chivas Guadalajara shirt walked in.

My people starting to show up, finally.

Thursday, July 21, 7:02 p.m.

The two couple quick hours became a whole day affair. We had no plans so I thought it didn’t really matter that we spent a whole day in a mall, this was all until disaster stroke.

We here at BWRAO headquarters knew that Juve was scheduled to arrive on Thursday in Vegas but assumed that they would just go straight into their hotel and rest up. Apparently, though, that was not the case as Juve headed straight to Allegiant Stadium to hold a press conference and have some light training before the game.

I was furious, how could they not let us know about this? Here we are, traveling all the way to the freaking desert to cover this game and they don’t even have the courtesy to give me a heads up about ... oh, they did.

In an effort to disconnect from work I turned off notifications for my email inbox, so I missed the information being sent over for media to cover this press conference and the training. I missed it completely. That’s all-time blunder from your boy to kick off my big J sports Journalist career ... unbelievable.

What if there were no more press conferences? What if the badge had to be picked up today and I couldn’t get it tomorrow? What if I had inadvertent screwed up the whole trip? With my spirits much lower than before, we headed back to the hotel to figure out how on earth we are bringing all of our newly acquired goods back to Mexico.

Thursday, July 21, 10:02 p.m.

I turn email notifications back on and I get more info about tomorrow’s game. There will be more press conferences, of course you can get your badge on Friday. The “training” was 15 minuted of kicking a ball around to get B-Roll. Disaster averted, but it was a close call, got to be better than that, I ain’t missing one more goddamn thing, that’s my promise to you, the reader.

“Hey! Nice shirt, Juve!”

Second person shouting out my shirt after having dinner and we walk the Strip towards the New York New York hotel.

“Forza Juve! See you tomorrow!”

Third person, in the fancy mall by the Aria hotel. We see a blind drunk guy wearing a Chivas jersey, this town is aware of the event at least. Spirits picking back up.

We sit down absolutely exhausted from all the walking at the Bellagio casino. There’s not a lot of places to sit in Vegas hotels that are not dedicated to either gambling, eating or drinking — neat little trick they pull — so we sit down at a Monopoly-themed slot machine. To not get ushered off it, we put in a spare bill in and start smashing the spin button with no real understanding of how the game works. We almost lose our entire bankroll — a whole five bucks! — but suddenly the machine starts making all sorts of noises and the screen starts flashing. Rich Uncle Pennybags — the Monopoly guy who apparently has a name? — appears on screen and flips the digital board around as he calls us cheaters.

Against logic, this was a good thing — it was Monopoly cheaters edition — and our credit amount started going up and up and up. A thousand, two thousand, three thousand credits. It kept going up, it kept flashing, it kept making money noises. Did we just get rich off a dumb Monopoly themed slot machine near midnight in Vegas? Are we about to be the one in a million? The jackpot is supposed to be 28 Grand, so how much is an AMG CLS Mercedes Benz? Oh, that much? Maybe a used one?

The counter stopped, it enticed us to keep spinning, we had thousands of credits to our name, but sadly, we came to learn, credits are not equivalent to dollars and when the whole song and dance of the machine stopped we had to our name a whole $14.55.

Perhaps not the riches that could change our life, but we are 10 dollars up in Vegas and nothing can take away the thrill of a few seconds off picturing myself in a brand new German luxury car.

(The girlfriend thinks this was a dumb idea and we should have invested that money, so it keeps generating something off of the interests. Even with fake winnings she’s the voice of reason.)

We Uber back to the Rio Hotel and a Mercedes SUV pulls up to drive us. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

See you tomorrow.