NBA Rumor: Vegas NBA Team?

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It’s looking more and more like the last professional sports league that will come to Las Vegas – if it actually ever happens – will be the NBA. The first league to embrace Sin City currently has no plans to expand or relocate. Meanwhile Las Vegas officials are working on attracting an MLB team and an MLS team over the next few years. Executives from the Oakland Athletics have made numerous trips to Las Vegas over the past year, looking at different locations for a possible $1 billion new stadium. A’s president Dave Kaval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently that they have reduced their list of potential stadium sites in Las Vegas from 20 to 10-12 and will release a list of the finalists sometime after the World Series.

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The response from those in hockey was positive. They certainly didn’t close any doors on the idea and, 17 years later, Las Vegas received its expansion team. Things were entirely different down the street. “(Stern) looked at me and said, ‘Over my dead body will Las Vegas ever get a team with legalized sports betting there,’ ” Goodman recalled Wednesday. “He was a curmudgeon. He was brilliant. He was a very, very nice man. Over the years, I became the little dog nipping at his ankles about Las Vegas. Wherever he went, I went. I imposed myself on him. “I told him all the time he was wrong about Las Vegas. He was always very nice in the way he said, ‘No.’ We disagreed in the beginning but became good friends. He was a decent person. I really liked the guy.”

Las Vegas might eventually land an NBA team, but expansion or relocation aren’t in the current plans, commissioner Adam Silver said. He will be in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League, which begins Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. Various league meetings also will take place, including one involving the Board of Governors in which significant decisions are made. The first two days of the Summer League are sold out. “While we, of course, don’t have an NBA team in Las Vegas, this seems like the next best thing,” Silver said Thursday. “For roughly two weeks of the calendar in July, enormous attention is on the NBA. I believe we account for roughly 30,000 room nights during that two-week period that we’re there.

Mark Prows, senior vice president of entertainment operations for MGM Resorts, a speaker at the summit, also predicted the NBA would be “the next big thing” for Las Vegas. “It’s also not something where we’re going to force a square peg into a round hole. We’re going to let it happen organically,” he said. “We’ve been very active in conversations and, as many people know, the city has an amazing relationship with the NBA.” Prows said he thinks it’s more likely that an existing NBA team would relocate to Las Vegas than the league expanding here. “We’re talking about something that is probably five years or so down the road,” Prows said. “Frankly, with where we’re at with VGK and the Raiders, this market needs to absorb those (teams) from a sponsorship standpoint. It’s critical that we don’t get out over our skis as a city.”

Splash one arena deal. Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and Councilwomen Laura Pastor and Debra Stark have asked for a postponement of this afternoon’s City Council vote on whether to spend $150 million upgrading the Suns arena. This, because the deal will go down in defeat if it’s put to a vote. Whether they get a continuance or not could mark the beginning of a showdown between the city and Suns owner Robert Sarver, who is telling some council members that he will take the team to Seattle or Las Vegas.

The Phoenix City Council is expected to delay a vote on a $230 million Talking Stick Resort Arena renovation following backlash from the community. The council was slated to vote on the deal, which could keep the Phoenix Suns in downtown until 2042, Wednesday afternoon. But the council will now likely vote to delay the final vote until Jan. 23, allowing Mayor Thelda Williams to host two additional community meetings to solicit feedback before the council decision, according to city sources. The Suns have been asking the city for a new or significantly updated arena for years, but have been unable to get the council to publicly consider a deal until now.

Two NBA players specifically pointed to the Knights’ success as an indication that Las Vegas would support a basketball team. The Knights made the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season and drew crowds beyond capacity for most games. “Even just from adding an NHL team, they’re doing great things,” reigning NBA MVP James Harden of the Houston Rockets said. “It’s built for it. Obviously, the money is there, but I think the fan support is there as well. We saw that in hockey.”

Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons largely echoed Harden’s thoughts, but said relocating a team would be difficult. “The hockey team here did really, really well,” Griffin said. “I don’t know if you consider it a sports town because of everything that’s going on here, but I think people appreciate sports here. I think all sports would do well here. It’s probably something in the future, but I think everybody realizes how much basketball brings to a city, and I don’t know that it would be easy to take a team away from a different city to bring one here.”
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October 18, 2021 | 10:03 pm EDT Update