LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas welcomed Barrett-Jackson’s announcement Monday of a major new vintage car auction there with open arms, in contrast to the cold shoulder the auction house has received from Scottsdale in recent months.
It was a festival atmosphere in the House of Blues nightclub in Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino as Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson announced that the new event would be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center next year, on Oct. 16-18.
“Barrett-Jackson is going to hit this town like a heavyweight championship,” Jackson said.
The Las Vegas event is slated to host 600 collector cars for auction. Like the show at WestWorld of Scottsdale, the new venue is expected to include live music, a fashion show and merchandise and memorabilia for sale, in addition to the flashy autos on the auction block.
Jackson chose Mandalay Bay in part because the Las Vegas Convention Center is undergoing renovations. Mandalay Bay President Bill Hornbuckle said it was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
“If you own a casino, and there are people in the room that will spend $100 million on cars, that caught our attention,” said Hornbuckle, who along with Jackson made the announcement on stage in the nightclub.
Barrett-Jackson had been threatening for months to scale back its lucrative collector car auction in Scottsdale in favor of Las Vegas. In May, Jackson gave Scottsdale an ultimatum — that the city make concessions in negotiating a 20-year deal to keep the auction at WestWorld, 16601 N. Pima Road, or the local event could be scaled back to focus on a new Las Vegas event.
Earlier this month, Jackson announced that only about 1,000 cars will be auctioned at the Scottsdale event in 2008, compared with the 1,270 in January. He attributed the reduction partly to the lack of progress by Scottsdale in making improvements to WestWorld.
Jackson said his relationship with Las Vegas, on the other hand, is “phenomenal” compared with his rocky relationship with Scottsdale.
“I’m just tired of fighting my hometown,” he said.
He said it’s possible the Las Vegas event could grow to overshadow the Scottsdale auction.
“I hate to say that, but I think with the amount of money here, and the lifestyle, this event will grow,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if it will pass Scottsdale, but it certainly has the infrastructure and support.”
The Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction has been called the “Super Bowl” of auto auctions, and coverage of the event is featured on cable television. This year, the auction attracted more than 250,000 people, many from out of state. The affluent among them may bid on rare vehicles. The tourists mean money flowing into local hotels, restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues.
It’s estimated the auction brings about $100 million annually to the Scottsdale economy.
Pat Christenson, president of the nonprofit Las Vegas Events, said he approached Jackson about a potential Las Vegas venue after visiting the Scottsdale auction recently.
“It was immediately apparent that this was something we needed to pursue,” Christenson said.
Jackson has said repeatedly that talks with Scottsdale officials on a long-term agreement to keep the auction at WestWorld have reached an impasse since the city dropped an $80 million multiuse building at WestWorld from this year’s budget, refused to sell Jackson land to build his own auction house there and declined to open up nearly 80 acres for parking.