Welcome to The Morning Column! I have lived in Los Angeles my entire life and have covered sports in the city for over 20 years. I spent 16 years as a sports columnist at the Los Angeles Times and a senior writer at ESPN and Sports Illustrated. In addition to writing The Morning Column on Substack, I host The Arash Markazi Show on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles and 98.5 The Fan in Las Vegas Monday-Friday and on The SportsMap Radio Network on Fridays. It’s also a daily podcast on Spotify.
What is the focus of The Morning Column and The Arash Markazi Show?
The focus is on sports, food, entertainment, and events across Los Angeles and Las Vegas. My goal is to give you a short, breezy, easy-to-read notes column you can get through in less than 10 minutes in the morning and a 60-minute radio show and podcast you can listen to in the afternoon or evening on your commute or at home.
I have covered every significant sporting event in Los Angeles over 20 years, from the Lakers wining five NBA titles to the Dodgers winning their first World Series championship in over 30 years in the Texas bubble. In 2016, ESPN assigned me to cover the flightpath and highway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas before the opening of T-Mobile Arena. Over the next five years I covered every major sporting event in Las Vegas. I did the first live television hits on ESPN from Las Vegas after the NHL awarded Las Vegas its first professional sports franchise, after the Raiders were approved by NFL owners to move to Las Vegas, after the city got a WNBA team and when the supreme court struck down a federal law allowing sports gambling around the country, not just in Nevada.
Why Los Angeles and Las Vegas?
Professional sports leagues have territories and a little-known fact is Las Vegas and Hawaii are part of the territories for most Los Angeles professional sports teams. For example, the Lakers’ territory, designated by the NBA, includes all of Southern California, Las Vegas and Hawaii. That means the regional sports networks that televise the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Kings, Ducks, Sparks, Galaxy and LAFC are not only available in Los Angeles but also in Las Vegas and Hawaii. The Raiders now call Las Vegas home but remain one of the most popular teams in Los Angeles after winning the city’s only Super Bowl and calling L.A. home for many years. They’re also the most popular NFL team in Hawaii. The Lakers, Dodgers and Raiders also have television and radio deals in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hawaii.
Los Angeles and Las Vegas recently opened two multi-billion-dollar stadiums and will open two state-of-the-art arenas by 2024. Over the next eight years Los Angeles and Las Vegas will host the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Draft, MLB All-Star Game, NHL All-Star Game, MLS All-Star Game, WNBA All-Star Game, WrestleMania, SummerSlam, College Football National Championship Game, Summer Olympics, FIFA World Cup, U.S. Open, UFC and boxing pay-per-views, and other major sports events, making it the epicenter of the sports world for the next decade.
What’s the connection between Los Angeles and Las Vegas?
Over 20 percent of Las Vegas visitors come from Southern California, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. It is by far the largest regional contributor to tourism in Las Vegas. Los Angeles is also consistently Las Vegas’ top air feeder market and California is Las Vegas’ top air feeder market by state with over twice as many visitors as the second state. Walk into any sports bar in Las Vegas or Hawaii and you’ll be able to watch the same local teams on the same local channels you would in Los Angeles. Here's what I wrote about the connection between Los Angeles and Las Vegas for the Los Angeles Times:
Los Angeles and Las Vegas are forever connected.
Beyond the I-15 that links both alongside landmarks such as Route 66, the Barstow Del Taco and Zzyzx Road, the two cities are intertwined in a way unlike any other two metropolises located in different states.
Think of some of the greatest movies involving Las Vegas — “Swingers,” “The Hangover,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Rain Man,” “Leaving Las Vegas,” and “Very Bad Things” — and most involve the infamous Los Angeles-Las Vegas road trip that anyone who has lived in either city has endured a time or 20.
There are 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County, but it feels like Las Vegas, despite being 270 miles away in Nevada, might as well be No. 89. There’s a good chance if you live in Los Angeles that you’ve been to Vegas more than to at least 80 of those incorporated cities.
Whenever I check into a hotel or get into a cab and they ask me where I’m from, they usually laugh when they hear “L.A.” I might as well have told them I was from Henderson or Summerlin. “You’re basically local,” my cab driver told me. “If you can fly here in 45 minutes or drive here in four hours, you’re local.”
The bond between the cities has only grown stronger after the Raiders moved to Las Vegas. Los Angeles Raiders fans who have continued to support the team over 25 years in Oakland now make the short drive or flight to see their team in Sin City before returning home after a fun weekend.
Los Angeles and Las Vegas were already intrinsically connected but now they can add pro sports to the bond that ties these two cities together.