As previously reported here Las Vegas will host the 2007 NBA All-Star game.
While this is certainly a very nice feather for Las Vegas to put in it’s cap, I have to ask why we don’t already have a major professional sports franchise? By major I mean either Major League Baseball or the National Football League. I’m a big believer that the NBA has lost it’s mainstream appeal to the masses. Sure there are still fans of the game left, but they are pretty hardcore fans (like hockey) who would watch the game no matter who was playing. How often does the casual sports fan tune in to watch the NBA finals? Who won the NBA title last year? The year before that? Now tell me who won this years Super Bowl or World Series. See my point?
Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the entire country. Thousands of new people move to Las Vegas EVERY month. The fan base is here. The corporate sponsorships are here. The MONEY is here. Everything is in place to support a professional team. But there is one small problem holding everything back: Gambling.
The mere thought (aghast!) of people actually gambling on a team that is based in Las Vegas makes the power brokers of the major sports leagues squirm. They worry that the “integrity” of their sport would be compromised by the betting that would take place in the teams home city. I find this pretty laughable. Right or wrong, gambling goes on in every city, county, small town, village, and hamlet in the United States. In pretty much all of these places the gambling that is taking place is illegal. In Las Vegas, that is not a problem. Gambling in Nevada is pretty regulated, to say the least! What is the difference between a Las Vegas casino accepting bets on an NFL game for a team playing in Buffalo and one playing in Las Vegas? There isn’t any.
Boxing is the only sport that can see the forest through the trees when it comes to staging it’s events in Las Vegas. You want to see a spectacle? Walk around the MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay the night of a big Oscar De La Hoya fight (or ask someone who was there when Mike Tyson, in his prime, was fighting in Las Vegas) and you can literally feel the energy pulsate around you.
Imagine that occurring 8 weekends (plus the playoffs) a year with a Las Vegas based NFL team. What about the grand daddy of all spectacles in the HISTORY of sports – The Super Bowl being played in Las Vegas. Do you think they would have trouble filling an 80,000 seat stadium? I don’t.
What are your thoughts? Should Las Vegas get a professional sports team?