The first two days of the NCAA Tournament can’t be matched by any other sporting event when it comes to pure unadulterated excitement. To get the most out of the experience, this is one event that being there in person does not do the experience justice. Las Vegas is the only place to be for the Madness, and Wynn Las Vegas as usual blew away the rest of the strip with the experience it created.
This year the Wynn created a “Get in the Game” package that allowed you to enjoy the tournament in style at the Encore Theater. “March Madness” is all about the games and you will not find a better way to watch the games than in the Encore Theater. The center screen was a staggering 20’ x 30’ and that screen was surrounded by four 7 1/2’ x 13’ screens. The size was amazing—it was like watching the games in a movie theater but the more impressive part was that they were able to have such large screens at a near HD level of quality. In other parts of Vegas there were plenty of large screen televisions to catch the games, but I did not see anything comparable to the Wynn when it came to quality and size.
The other significant part of watching the games that was new in 2011 was that the games are being carried by four networks, meaning you are, for the most part, not going to have games being cut in by CBS at key points. This was another winner for the Wynn as they had someone in control of the main screen and they did an amazing job of always having the screen and sound to the key game, as well as never letting that screen linger on breaks during the games.
The Wynn took care of the viewing; now what about the theater? I don’t think you could have found a better setting than the Encore Theater. It is exactly what you would expect at the Wynn: first class and luxurious. The theater not only provided comfortable seats, perfect for 12 hours of basketball, but with the theater setting you had a perfect view of the games no matter where you sat and you had a raucous crowd that provided cheers and high fiving throughout the day. The strangers sitting next to you would suddenly turn into lifelong friends; this setting would have gotten even the casual fan excited.
Now since this is Las Vegas, wagering on the games is a must and if you have ever partaken in the experience, you know the lines for betting can seem a little like visiting your local DMV. Once again the Wynn made sure you were taken care of as they set up betting stations right inside the theater so your waiting time to place your wagers, as well as to collect your winnings, was always minimal. Also right outside the theater was a bar as well as a snack stand, and there was even fresh pizza among the food items to ensure you did not miss any of the action.
The Wynn offered packages that included rooms, but even if you were not staying at the Wynn you could just purchase a one day package or three day packages and that set you up in the theater with two drinks per day. The theater event is only available for the first four days of the tournament, but I would highly recommend the Wynn sports book for the rest of the tournament and all other sports including horse racing. The sports book is just as stunning as the rest of the Wynn and you also get the expertise of its manager, John Avello. Avello has a long history in Las Vegas and if you get a chance to catch him at work, take the opportunity to take in some of his wealth of knowledge when it comes to Las Vegas and sports. If you are a reality show fan you can check out the odds he has posted on who he likes to win some of the most popular shows on television. He has some amazing insight on these events that you won’t find from anyone else.
The Wynn provided the ultimate experience for “March Madness” but a few other spots could also provide you with a fantastic game-day experience. “The Pub” at the Monte Carlo is exactly what the name says: a huge bar setting with tables to take care of any size group and they provided viewers with over 30 TVs, so you never had to turn your head too far in any direction to catch the game you wanted. “The Pub” has an incredible staff that made sure no matter how busy things got, you were always taken care of, whether it was enjoying one of their 89 beers on tap or some of the tasty menu items, including the “Hangover Cure,” which is their juicy pub burger topped with a fried egg.
The M Resort is a little off of the strip, but once you are there you will love it. A stunning resort and casino, the M paired up with Budweiser for viewing parties throughout the tournament in the Ravello Lounge. They gave fans the Bud Girls, drink deals, contests, prizes and my favorite In-Running Wagering. Those of you who have to get in a wager or two, this is the ultimate, the In-Running Wagering allows you to bet on the games while they are being played, truly the only way to gamble on hoops.
"March Madness" is the one time of the year you truly must be in Las Vegas and make sure you plan in advance because it is one of the most popular weekends of the year. Start making those plans when New Year hits, because you want to make sure you get the hotel you want and that you get there in time for that first tipoff on Thursday morning to take in the roar of the sports book.
For more information on Wynn Las Vegas, visit: www.wynnlasvegas.com
For entertainment odds posted by John Avello, visit: http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/casino/race-sports
For more information on The Pub at The Monte Carlo, visit: http://www.montecarlo.com/restaurants/the-pub.aspx
For information on the M Resort, visit: www.themresort.com