Sports fan? Las Vegas has some teams stationed within its borders, though not as many as one expects, why you may ask? Well, it was due in part to perceived risks with legal sports betting, thus no major professional sports league had ever had a team stationed in Las Vegas until the NHL decided to expand there in the year 2016, in June. Though the NBA’s Utah Jazz played 11 home games at the Thomas & Mack Center in the 1983–84 season. The placement of a major league team in Las Vegas was an ongoing topic of discussion between city leaders and the professional sports leagues.
Historically, the most prominent issue with sports in Las Vegas was the perceived problem of legal sports betting. Traditionally, all four major professional sports leagues had strong anti-gambling policies, prohibiting their personnel from having any involvement in gambling. The NFL took the toughest stance, even refusing to accept Las Vegas tourism advertising for Super Bowl telecasts and threatening to file suit against any local hotels holding Super Bowl parties.
Hotels in the city got around the legal threat by referring to the Super Bowl as “The Big Game” rather than its actual name in advertising. In addition, some potential owners believed a professional sports franchise would have difficulty gaining an audience, given Las Vegas’s numerous entertainment options. A number of prior professional football teams in the city ranked at or near last in their leagues in attendance over the years, such as the Las Vegas Posse, Las Vegas Locomotives and arena football Las Vegas Outlaws.
The city also has a high percentage of residents working in 24-hour occupations, many of whom work nights and weekends when most games would be played. Several owners of other sports franchises disagreed. Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria described Las Vegas as “a potential gold mine” for a professional sports team owner. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was also quoted saying that Las Vegas would be a good professional sports town.
Another major obstacle in the way of Las Vegas sports was the lack of suitable facilities. The city did not have a facility that was large enough or modern enough to host an MLB or NFL team. While the Thomas & Mack Center and MGM Grand Garden Arena were large enough on paper to host an NBA or NHL team, they were not suitable for anything beyond temporary use due to age and/or design issues. This problem was solved when T-Mobile Arena finished construction.
Speaking of that certain arena, did you know a team of the National Hockey League call that arena home? Yes, they’re the Vegas Golden Knights, they are a professional ice hockey team based in the Las Vegas metropolitan area which began play in the 2017–18 NHL season. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team is owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, a consortium led by Bill Foley and the Maloof family.
On other sports, there also is a team stationed here in Las Vegas in the football category, well, soon to be stationed to be exact. The city will soon be home to the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) possibly beginning as soon as the end of the 2018 NFL season. On March 27, 2017, NFL owners voted 31–1 to approve the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas (only the Miami Dolphins dissented the proposal), who will continue to play at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland in 2017 and possibly longer, until their new stadium, the Las Vegas Stadium, is built in time for the 2020 NFL season.
Basketball? No NBA here I’m afraid, but there is the WNBA, and they have a team that calls the City of Lights home, and they’re called the Las Vegas Aces, they are a professional women’s basketball team based in Paradise, Nevada, playing in the Western Conference in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The Aces play their games at Mandalay Bay Events Center.