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npr – Behind That Bonkers Golden Knights Pregame Show: ‘We Threw Everything On The Wall’

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Tonight in Las Vegas, Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is the main event barely. The elaborate pregame show for the Vegas Golden Knights is a close second billing. Now, most NHL teams keep their pregame shows pretty straightforward. The arena goes quiet. Maybe the lights turn off. The Jumbotron shows a highlight video. The players skate out onto the ice, and the game begins. But this is Las Vegas, and straightforward just doesn’t cut it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The West belongs to Vegas.

(CHEERING)

KELLY: There are flames shooting up out of a castle, neon robots, a sword fight on the ice, all culminating in the actual Golden Knights themselves skating out of a giant knight’s helmet which of course is billowing with red smoke. And all of this is set to the “Ride Of The Valkyries.”

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KELLY: The guy responsible for all this is Jonny Greco. He is vice president of entertainment production for the Golden Knights. Before that, he was a live events director for pro wrestling. Well, I caught up with him today as he was prepping for the show at T-Mobile Arena. And I asked him, given this is the Golden Knights’ first-ever season – they were starting from scratch – what kind of debate was there about just how Vegas to take this thing?

JONNY GRECO: We threw everything on the wall. Like, how do we want to go? Do we want to go traditional, which is great and is no thrills and – or do we want to go Vegas – ’cause we also talked about going uber-Vegas, right? Is Elvis your host? Do you have showgirls…

KELLY: (Laughter).

GRECO: …On skates? Like, and we kind of found a happy medium. You know, you got the slot machines and the dice roll that says make some noise. And, you know, we tried to balance all of that there, but we definitely talked about going – running the whole gauntlet of traditional to, like I said, Elvis as a PA announcer or host.

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