06/06/2006 11:00PM

ArenaBowl tries slashing prices


This Sunday, the Arena Football League hosts its championship game - ArenaBowl XX, or 20 for the non-Romans - for the second straight year at the Thomas and Mack Center here in Las Vegas.

The line is Orlando Predators -2 over the Chicago Rush. The total is a consensus 98 with the Palms at 97 1/2 and the MGM Mirage properties at 98 1/2 as of noon Wednesday.

Prior to the past two years, the Arena Bowl was held on the turf of the highest remaining seed and would usually sell out with a rabid crowd root, root, rooting for the home team. AFL commissioner David Baker wanted to make the ArenaBowl a bigger event at a neutral site that would be set well in advance. When the league had to wait until the week before to find out where the title game would be played, it was a logistical nightmare to get everything set up in the host city.

So, last year the game was held in Las Vegas. Even though Baker said at Wednesday's state-of-the-league address that "I think it's met all of our expectations," attendance was disappointing at 10,822 and was attributed to the cheapest tickets being $40 in the end-zone seats in the upper deck. This year, those same seats are going for $12 and ticket sales are 20 percent ahead of last year's pace, Baker said, and he's hoping to reach 13,000.

Tickets are still available at the Thomas and Mack box office or at unlvtickets.com.

The AFL has three one-year contracts with the Thomas and Mack, but Baker wouldn't commit to having the title game here next year.

The New Orleans Voodoo didn't field a team this year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but with the return of the team next season, Baker said it would be a good-faith effort to award that city the title game. He said his goal would then be to return to Vegas in 2008 and then have a permanent rotation of host cities similar to the NFL.

Sports book notes

With the World Cup starting Friday, plus the third game of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday and the second game of the NBA finals on Sunday, there's plenty of other action for fans and bettors, in addition to the day-to-day baseball, the French Open, the weekly golf tournaments, and the Belmont.

* On Saturday night, Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins meet in Atlantic City for the light heavyweight title. Hopkins is stepping up to a new weight class after ruling the middleweight division for years. Tarver, who is best known for his two victories over Roy Jones Jr., is a -270 favorite (risk $2.70 for every $1 you want to profit) with Hopkins offered at +210 (win $2.10 for every $1 wagered). The over/under is set at 12 full rounds with the "will go" at -200 and the "won't go" at +170.

* In a Saturday bout at Madison Square Garden in New York, Miguel Cotto is a -500 favorite over undefeated Paul Malignnaggi, at +350, in their light welterweight battle.

* On Sunday, Nextel Cup's Pocono 500 should be more wide-open than the Belmont. At least that's the way Station Casinos oddsmaker Micah Roberts sees it. Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, and Carl Edwards are all co-favorites at 8-1, with Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne at 9-1.

CineVegas starts nine-day run

The CineVegas Film Festival kicks off Friday night and runs through next Saturday. In its eighth year, it's no longer a local festival that includes small screenings, and it now shows many more mainstream films, including premieres, while still keeping its edge. Promoters bill it as the World's Most Dangerous Film Festival.

The opening film is "Strangers With Candy," the prequel to the Comedy Central series of the same name. The closing-night film is the U.S. premiere of "Lies and Alibis," about a man who runs an alibi service for cheating husbands.

But even though the festival has gone away from showing a lot of gambling- or Vegas-based features, there are still some that look to be worth seeing.

"Skin City" is a work-in-progress (meaning not the final print) based on Jack Sheehan's book of the same name that exposes the sex industry, both legal and illegal, in Las Vegas. Those screenings are at 6 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Rebecca Romijn co-stars in "Lies and Alibis" and also is the lead character in "Wet Dreams," about her desire to choreograph a fountain show after seeing the display at the Bellagio. That will have its world premiere at 8:30 p.m. Monday and be screened again at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

There is also a program of Nevada short films at 3 p.m. Wednesday and 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The most-anticipated of the seven shorts is "The Business of Being Monti Rock," about the Vegas bon vivant who is mostly famous for being famous. You might recall him from his dozens of appearances, estimated at between 75 and 80, on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's.

The biggest star at this year's festival is expected to be Sylvester Stallone, who will receive a special award at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday before a special 30th-anniversary screening of "Rocky." Other honorees include Laurence Fishburn and Christina Ricci.

"Rocky" won't be the only film with a sports theme. Also to be shown are "Artie Lange's Beer League" (softball), "Nacho Libre" (wrestling) with Jack Black, and "Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos" (soccer).

The full schedule can be found at cinevegas.com.