Biggest US Leagues Look To Las Vegas For Future Franchises
The NHL has given Las Vegas an expansion NHL franchise that will begin play in the 2017-2018 season. Las Vegas was picked over Quebec City as a possible landing location for the newest team. For years the major sports leagues have floated the idea of having a team in Vegas while balancing the public relations issue of having a professional sports team in the middle of the sports betting center of America.
Bill Foley, the businessman pushing the bid and venture, is partners with the Maloof family, who owned the Sacramento Kings, in Black Knight Sports and Entertaintment. The group must pay the league an expansion fee of $500 million if the deal is ratified by two thirds of the NFL owners.
T-Mobile Arena, run by MGM and AEG, is newly finished and will be able to host the inaugural season of the NHL franchise.
Recently, the Oakland Raiders said they will move to Las Vegas if the city is able to fund a $1.4 billion stadium. The Raiders have been spurned in the migration to Los Angeles, with the Rams and Chargers winning the spots.
On a “Behind The Bets” podcast with ESPN’s Chad Millman, then Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman said that the city had a deal in place with the NBA that when the city of Las Vegas got an arena the city would receive a NBA franchise.
Las Vegas has a growing population now over 600,000 people and is the largest city in the country without a major pro sports team. But the change in perception about the city is not based in population.
The concern with legalized sports betting seems to have eased over the years. Daily Fantasy appears to be working as a gateway to sports betting and is making people more comfortable with the concept of betting money based on sporting events.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that sports betting would be good for the league because it makes games more exciting and increases avidity. The NFL team seems to be cozying up to the idea of more open talk on sports betting and putting a team in Las Vegas. For example, the NFL has strongly said that Las Vegas won’t have a NFL team but commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t outright say no to the Raiders’ proposal.
The strongest way to drive avidity to any sports event or team is economic incentive. Once the US pro sports leagues embrace sports betting as a form of entertainment, and not a source of corruption, they will find a whole new world of possible revenue streams, growing fanbases, and increasing fan avidity.