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Thread: Lack of professional sports in Las Vegas

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Lack of professional sports in Las Vegas

    According to the most recent estimates by the US Census Bureau, the Las Vegas metropolitan area has a population of about 1,800,000 residents. Many metropolitan areas throughout the United States with similar or smaller populations have one or two Big Four (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) professional sports franchises located in the region; I won't name them. Las Vegas is the largest US metropolitan area without a major league sports franchise, or even what could be considered a prominent or popular collegiate sports presence.

    There have been previous attempts to bring pro sports to Las Vegas. One of the most recent was the Las Vegas Posse, a Canadian Football League expansion team. The franchise was perhaps the least successful of any contemporary professional sports franchise; they finished their lone 1994 season 5-13, with an average attendance of 8,953, even with tickets priced at $9 a seat. Future attempts to site professional sports teams in Las Vegas, usually from upstart leagues such as the XFL, have been failures.

    Several reasons are often cited for the failure of professional sports in Las Vegas. The presence of professional gambling, with fear of game fixing, is supposedly the major reason the Big Four never considered Las Vegas in previous expansion efforts. Other reasons cited include:

    * Transient population with few natives: most residents have allegiances to their hometown teams.
    * Small television market: virtually no population for hundreds of miles/kilometers around the city.
    * Brutal summer weather would make baseball or football difficult.
    * Too much competition for entertainment dollars.

    What say you, Cyburbians? Could Las Vegas support a Big Four sports franchise?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    It seems like it should. The weather may be brutally hot at times, but that doesn't stop Phoenix from having several pro teams. I can't imagine local residents spend all their time at the casinos, although I know that Las Vegas does have plenty of casinos catering to locals.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I could see an NBA team in Las Vegas, maybe NFL, but that's probably it.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    MLB franchise in LV? Only if Pete Rose is in charge! Seriously, I think one of the biggest reasons has already been named, and that is the strong historic gambling connection. It's both a blessing and a curse for the community. In the case of professional sports franchises, though, it's a curse.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  5. #5
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I can imagine a basketball team would do well there if nothing else. Unless they come from areas with long, storied, or winning traditions (usually Los Angeles, Boston, San Antonio, or sometimes New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago), transient fans seem (in my own personal observation) more likely to adopt a new local basketball team than new teams in other sports. The NBA has had a presence in Las Vegas before, too, what with the All-Star Game a few years ago, and UNLV has it's strongest support in its basketball program. Plus you don't have to worry about the weather.

  6. #6
    I think Vegas will get an NBA team probably within the next five years. It could be an expansion team, but I think it would make more sense to move a team like the Clippers to Las Vegas where they can build a fan base and get out from underneath the Lakers' shadow. Other struggling California teams like Golden State and Sacramento, both of which have been rumored this past year to move, are possibilities as well. I think the Clippers would make the most sense though; it's a matter of whether Donald Sterling can leave L.A...or sell the team.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    My beloved Sacramento Kings would more than likely relocate to Vegas if a new Arena deal cannot be made. It just makes sense since the Maloof family (Kings Owners) own the Palms and are residents there. Other than that, i don't see any other sport franchise being successful there. Small market teams tend to have horrible track records (few exceptions such as the kings pre-great recession, GB, Portland Trailblazers). A handful have relocated (see NHL, NBA) and other small market franchises like Jacksonville Jags of the NFL just can't draw the fans to fill the seats but only survive due to the NFL's labor agreement that keep them afloat.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Detroit has four casinos within about a mile of the area where the Wings, Lions, and Tiger's play. Three of the four do not have sportbooks and they are illegal because we have professional sports. In fact one of the casinos is owned by the same family that owns the Red Wings and Tigers. That family skirts the law by saying that the Casino is owned by the wife while the sports teams are owned by the husband.

    Caeser's has a sports book that operates legally. However, it is located in Windsor Ontario. Ontario has had sportbooks for a long time that operate as part of their lottery machines. Literally every coffeeshop, convience store, and gas station that sells lottery tickets is also a sportsbook.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    My beloved Sacramento Kings would more than likely relocate to Vegas if a new Arena deal cannot be made. It just makes sense since the Maloof family (Kings Owners) own the Palms and are residents there.
    Good point; I'm sure the Maloof brothers would love to start fresh in Vegas. But I hope for Sacramento's sake (the city and the existing fans there), that doesn't happen.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    My guess would be the size of the TV market. Jacksonville, Buffalo, Green Bay, are the only pro-sports tv markets in the US that are smaller than Las Vegas. Greenville, SC, Harrisburg, PA, and even Kalamazoo, MI are larger markets, but I don't think the Clippers or the Kings are considering relocation to any of these cities.

  11. #11
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    I believe Nevada law prohibits any sports book to take bets on an event within the state. I could be wrong, but I know it's that way with UNLV...
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  12. #12
         
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    I wouldn't be surprised to see the Grizzlies (Memphis NBA team) relocate to LV in a few years. I think Louisville is poised to make a major push for an NBA team as well.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    The weather would probably make an NBA or NHL team more likely than football or baseball, unless they were playing indoors as well. MLS has talked about expanding there. The NBA had an All-Star game there a few years ago. It may be best for Las Vegas to try to host those kind of special events every so often.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by danthonyjr View post
    I think Louisville is poised to make a major push for an NBA team as well.
    Not any more. They tried to get the franchise that moved to OKC, but Freedom Hall was not seen as an attractive NBA arena. Spurned, the city went ahead and designed and built a new arena specifically for UofL basketball. I doubt that Pitino would be too pleased with an NBA franchise here ...

  15. #15
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Several reasons are often cited for the failure of professional sports in Las Vegas. The presence of professional gambling, with fear of game fixing, is supposedly the major reason the Big Four never considered Las Vegas in previous expansion efforts. Other reasons cited include:

    * Transient population with few natives: most residents have allegiances to their hometown teams.
    * Small television market: virtually no population for hundreds of miles/kilometers around the city.
    * Brutal summer weather would make baseball or football difficult.
    * Too much competition for entertainment dollars.

    What say you, Cyburbians? Could Las Vegas support a Big Four sports franchise?
    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    MLB franchise in LV? Only if Pete Rose is in charge! Seriously, I think one of the biggest reasons has already been named, and that is the strong historic gambling connection. It's both a blessing and a curse for the community. In the case of professional sports franchises, though, it's a curse.


    I think this is the elephant in the room not being addressed. Other cities have sports franchises despite brutal summer weather (Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Miami). Other cities have comparable entertainment to Las Vegas (Los Angeles, New York, Miami) and are also located in relatively remote locations (Seattle, Denver). Other cities also have transient populations (Atlanta, Washington, D.C.). It's the gambling element.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    I believe Nevada law prohibits any sports book to take bets on an event within the state. I could be wrong, but I know it's that way with UNLV...
    Definitely not any event, otherwise boxing matches would never be held in Vegas. You could be right about college or pro sports of other stripes though.

    The reason that Vegas doesn't have a team is mostly because none of the three major sports that have been talked about from time to time (I've never heard of a legitimate NHL proposal) are willing to be the first to associate themselves with the home of gambling. It's a perception thing, more than a worry about bad things happening, IMO. The NBA tried out the All Star game there in large part to test how the public would react, from what I remember being reported.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    People go there for Vegas Baby - the casinos, nightlife, strip not for a sporting event unless its a one-off boxing match or all-star maybe. Too many other things to do.
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    People go there for Vegas Baby - the casinos, nightlife, strip not for a sporting event unless its a one-off boxing match or all-star maybe. Too many other things to do.
    Too many other professional sporting events. Is ménage à trois a team event? I'll bet RJ can tell us.
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    I believe Nevada law prohibits any sports book to take bets on an event within the state. I could be wrong, but I know it's that way with UNLV...
    I remember a controversy when the lights mysteriously went out during a UNLV game against Wisconsin a few years back. The game was called in the middle of the 4th quarter because they could not get the lights back on. The action was heavy in the favor of Wisconsin and by the lights going out before the end of the game the casinos did not have to pay. Maybe because of this you can't bet on UNLV home games.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    I remember a controversy when the lights mysteriously went out during a UNLV game against Wisconsin a few years back. The game was called in the middle of the 4th quarter because they could not get the lights back on. The action was heavy in the favor of Wisconsin and by the lights going out before the end of the game the casinos did not have to pay. Maybe because of this you can't bet on UNLV home games.
    I'm confused on this. How can the action be heavily in favor of one side or the other, unless some giant last minute bets come through (or something was screwed up with the casino's tracking of bets on the game)? Even then, it would only affect one sports book, and not the hundreds that exist. Most casinos have a $10,000 max limit on bets, so I can't imagine a scenario that would cause the action to tilt enough to one side that it would actually matter to a sports book.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  21. #21
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    yes, this has been bugging me for years!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    With the internet everywhere, casinos in most populated areas, and athletes/owners not from a local area I don't see how the gambling thing would matter anymore. You can bet on any event from anywhere now-a-days and just because the presence of casinos is the attraction in LV really has nothing to do with it in my mind.

    I by no means am an expert beyond the usual but let's look at each major sport:

    NHL - southern expansion wasn't the greatest idea and other southern cities are struggling so I don't see this as a possibility.
    NFL - football seems to have die-hard fans for one team regardless of where you live so I don't know how easy it would be to build a market when most people come from somewhere else and already have a team. LV also has a lot of people on the low end of the income spectrum (North Las vegas anyone?) that maybe wouldn't go to games often??
    NBA - maybe the best chance because basketball seems transient, much like the LV population. basketball needs a fairly uncomplicated arena that would have a million other uses in the city.
    MLB - baseball is the most family-friendly sport and while LV has been getting more family-friendly in the past few decades there is still too much geared for adults to make baseball a good possibility. Also, LV already has the 51's which only draw about 3,200 people per game. Even the Iowa Cubs with a metro of 1/3 of LV and much closer to MLB teams averages over 6,000 per game. Not sure why, but something about America's past-time in the newest metro in America doesn't sit right with me.

  23. #23
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bobcatplanner View post
    .....Other struggling California teams like Golden State and Sacramento, both of which have been rumored this past year to move, are possibilities as well. ......
    The Warriors are for sale and there are plans for the franchise to return to San Francisco. Of all people, the Giants are considering a proposal to construct an arena near AT&T Park. Go to SFGate.com and search the site.
    I think that one of the great signs of security is the ability to just walk away.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Small market teams tend to have horrible track records (few exceptions such as the kings pre-great recession, GB, Portland Trailblazers). A handful have relocated (see NHL, NBA) and other small market franchises like Jacksonville Jags of the NFL just can't draw the fans to fill the seats but only survive due to the NFL's labor agreement that keep them afloat.
    I agree that small market baseball teams tend to have horrible track records, but they do quite well in the NBA. Portland, Salt Lake, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Sacramento are all incredibly successful from a moneymaking standpoint (or at least have been relatively recently), and all have had pretty good success (especially SLC and San Antonio) from a wins/losses standpoint as well. The NBA has been very successful at locating in metros mostly or completely ignored by other sports - the salary cap structure, profit-sharing, and relatively small amount of folks needed to fill an arena all help with that (none of which exist on the same level in MLB).
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    I'm confused on this. How can the action be heavily in favor of one side or the other, unless some giant last minute bets come through (or something was screwed up with the casino's tracking of bets on the game)? Even then, it would only affect one sports book, and not the hundreds that exist. Most casinos have a $10,000 max limit on bets, so I can't imagine a scenario that would cause the action to tilt enough to one side that it would actually matter to a sports book.
    Either the fix was in or the handicappers did not adjust correctly and the casinos had too much exposure to a UNLV loss so they cut the power...or someone crashed their car into a power box and 4 blocks went dark. I have no idea I was just refuting the aspect that you cannot bet on UNLV games.
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