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George Strait to return to Vegas at new MGM arena

23 Sep 2015

By Mike Weatherford
George Strait, country music's bedrock superstar, will be an anchor act for Las Vegas' new arena, playing exclusive multiple engagements in the new venue starting in April.

Tuesday's announcement was the first star name linked to the new $375 million co-venture of MGM Resorts and AEG Live going up next to the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort & Casino, and put to rest any talk that country's most enduring superstar would not return to a Las Vegas stage.

Strait was present at the MGM Grand for the announcement of his Las Vegas concert dates, which will be April 22-23 and Sept. 9-10.

The date for the arena's opening night and that headliner are still be to announced.

"It's fun to play Vegas . . . A concert is kind of a bonus," Strait told reporters Tuesday morning.

Later, after running through the venues he's played over the years, Strait said Las Vegas "kind of feels like home."

"I didn't want to do another structured tour," Strait explained of his semiretirement. But the Las Vegas deal allows him to "play a couple of dates here and then go home for a while. . . . It kind of works out just like I had planned."

"Las Vegas has been part of my country music career," he said.

A new album, "Cold Beer Conversation," is coming out Friday, with the title track being released as a single on Wednesday. The singer said he has had time to work "on my golf game and do a little fishin'."

The 63-year-old Texan always left an out clause in last year's farewell tour, and "tour" turned out to be the operative word for the 48-show farewell jaunt leading to an all-star finale, "The Cowboy Rides Away," in front of nearly 105,000 people in Arlington's AT&T Stadium.

But Strait has never been a Las Vegas stranger these past 30 years. Throughout the 2000s and until this year, he made a winter tradition of playing the MGM Grand Garden the night before the Super Bowl.

Strait has played every sized venue since his debut at the Frontier Hotel with Moe Bandy in 1985, returning to the Las Vegas Convention Center that same year.

"It was tough," he told reporters. "It was back when two shows a night were common."

In 1999, he headlined a Sam Boyd Stadium concert with Tim McGraw and the Dixie Chicks.

In 2009, the Academy of Country Music named Strait its Artist of the Decade, and filmed an all-star salute at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, which aired as a CBS special.

Strait lays claim to 60 No. 1 country hits over the years and more than 100 million record sales. He is country's most consistent superstar, and the unifying denominator of all its facets, from vintage Western swing to today's beach-partying rockers.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com. Follow him @Mikeweatherford.

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