It’s shaping up to be a December to remember in Las Vegas

Major League Baseball’s winter meetings, which a open a five-day run on Sunday, will dominate sports pages with record-setting contracts, including the likelihood of hometown hero Bryce Harper landing the biggest one of all.


On Dec. 28, Lady Gaga makes one of the most anticipated headliner residencies since Celine Dion, starting in 2003, and Britney Spears in 2013. Lady Gaga is riding a wave of fresh success from her hit movie, “A Star is Born.” She and MGM Resorts International could garner another promotional bonanza if she wins a Best Actress Oscar.

The recruitment of Harper has already revved up, with “Magic” Johnson heading a Los Angeles Dodgers’ delegation, according to

Johnson and other Dodgers officials traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Harper," Yahoo reported on Tuesday. "Johnson in 2012 bought into the Guggenheim Partners’ $2.15 billion purchase of the Dodgers with $50 million of his own, a 2-plus percent investment that is more significant for his name, reputation and L.A. credibility.

“Johnson has already lured LeBron James to Los Angeles this year. Could he do the same with one of MLB's biggest stars in Harper?” Yahoo mused.

The only time Las Vegas previously served as host of the winter meetings was 2008. It was one of the earliest signs that professional sports owners were warming up to Las Vegas, after years of concerns that it sent the wrong signal to conduct their business and off-season trades and transactions in the nation’s gaming capital.

That year was notable for the New York Yankees signing of pitcher CC Sabathia for a record deal: a seven years and $161 million -- at $23 million a season, by far the biggest contract for any pitcher in history.

Front-office executives surveyed during the season believe Harper, who grew up in Henderson, could rake in the first $400 million contract, or at the least exceed Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million record deal. Manny Machado is another prized free agent.

Wednesday’s program includes the gala and the Scout of the Year Awards, emceed by Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby.