Make a run for the border!

Aug 3, 2004 6:27 AM

Somebody said, "If you build it, they will come."

Somebody may have asked, "Even in the middle of the desert?"

Ten years later and halfway between Las Vegas and Baker, Calif., the answer to the question crystallizes as a resounding "yes," most definitely, even in the parched border town of Primm.

The place they built was Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino in Primm, a town that sprouted out of a gas station and rest stop on Interstate 15. Monday will mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the doors of the resort, which is sort of a miracle in the desert, Nevada-style.

Buffalo Bill’s followed in the bootsteps of Whisky Pete’s, which surely some mistook for a desert apparition when it first appeared among the cacti in 1977. Located across I-15 from Buffalo Bill’s and a third casino, Primmadona, Whisky Pete’s was remodeled about 10 years ago to keep pace with its newer cousins.

William and Peter have a lot more company these days, including the Desperado Roller Coaster, an attraction that takes about 500,00 passengers along for a ride every year. There’s also an outlet mall for those who will shop at the drop of a cactus needle.

Buffalo Bill’s also offers more than 1,200 rooms and suites in its two towers. The casino has enough space to hold 43 table games, 1,723 slot machines, a race and sports book, and a couple of bars, so while it may not be possible to be sinful in Primm, it is at least possible to be mischievous.

A 35-minute sprint south from Sin City on Interstate 15 through the shimmering heat off the desert floor, Buffalo Bill’s is part of Primm Valley Resorts, a wholly owned subsidiary of MGM Mirage.

Huddled under the same corporate umbrella are the three hotel and casinos, Primm Valley Golf Club with two 18-hole courses, Primm Center and the Primm Valley Lotto Store.

A newly-constructed housing complex makes it possible for Primm employees to live on-site rather than make the round-trip trek from Las Vegas every day. The complex will house 648 employees when it is completed at the end of September and has nearly 200 living there now.

For golf enthusiasts, the Lakes Course plays 6,945 yards and is a par 71 while the Desert Course plays about 7,131 yards and is a par 72. The Lakes Course was honored as one of the top 100 public courses in the nation by Golf Magazine in 2002.

For visitors heading into Las Vegas from California, the Primm Center offers one-stop reservations, 24 hours a day for hotel rooms, shows, restaurants and golf at MGM Mirage resorts.

Aside from the roller coaster, which ranks among the top10 in the country in terms of height, speed, greatest drop and track length, the Primm complex is also known for the Star of the Desert Arena, a 6,000 seat entertainment venue that has been attracting top-shelf entertainers for almost a decade. Among the entertainers who have appeared at the Star of Desert Arena since its opening in January 1995, are the late Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Bob Dylan, Kenny Rogers and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Next week’s 10-year anniversary party will be highlighted by a concert featuring Hootie & The Blowfish on Saturday and a free fireworks display on Sunday. Tickets for Hootie & The Blowfish are only $10.