'Ninth Island Showdown' showcases Hawaii's unique love for Las Vegas

Hundreds travel to watch UNLV-Hawaii matchup
Posted at 10:44 PM, Nov 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-17 14:26:38-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Few would think Las Vegas and Hawaii share much in common, but they probably haven't been to the "Ninth Island Showdown."

Hundreds traveled from Hawaii to attend the UNLV vs. Hawaii game and many Hawaii lovingly refer to Las Vegas as the "Ninth Island."

But why?

"People from Hawaii love to gamble. They love to come to Vegas," Russ Cannon, University of Hawaii photographer explained. "California Hotel is famous for bringing in people from Hawaii."

In fact, the California Hotel was built by Sam Boyd, the man who UNLV's stadium was named after.

The legendary casino developer, who lived in Honolulu, opened the hotel in 1975 six years after the Rebels and Warriors first played each other.

45 years later, 1 out of every 10 Hawaiian residents visit Las Vegas each year and many stay at the California.

It's a good thing for the local economy and even better for the "Ninth Island Showdown."

"Any given year there's several players on UNLV that have ties to Hawaii," Cannon said. "There [are] several players on UNLV that have ties to Hawaii [or] they're from Hawaii. They came here to play [and] sometimes there's even family members on each team."

There's also fans, like Fuchsia Yamashiro, with ties to both teams.

She graduated from UNLV in 2012 but bleeds Warrior green.

"These are our fans," Yamashiro said while pointing to the Hawaii crowd.

Yamashiro is part of a group called the "Road Warriors." They attend every road game, but Las Vegas is one of their favorite spots.

"This year we went to Seattle, New Mexico, Reno, Boise," Yamashiro explained. "Now we're here in Vegas. This is where we all are at."

Even though the Warriors beat the Rebels this year, there's no love lost between these two teams.

It's evident: Las Vegas has much respect and love for its Hawaiian brothers and sisters.