Vegas Already Has Successful NHL & NFL Teams. Why MLB & NBA Could Be Next

Posted By Marc Meltzer on May 25, 2021

Las Vegas could finally become the home to a Major League Baseball (MLB), a National Basketball Association (NBA) team, or both in the future.

MLB could approve an existing team to move to Las Vegas, but more on that in a minute. Meanwhile, the NBA is considering expansion and could bring a new team to Las Vegas.

These ideas might sound familiar. The NHL approved Las Vegas as the home to an expansion team in 2016 – the Vegas Golden Knights, holding court at T-Mobile Arena. A year later, the NFL approved the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas in 2017. They became the Las Vegas Raiders, kicking off their first season in 2020 at their shiny, new Allegiant Stadium.

As the team preps for 2021 NFL season, Raiders tickets are flying and the city is enjoying its new football clout. (The 2022 NFL Draft is set for April in Las Vegas, and it’s likely the city will land a Super Bowl soon.)

Now, Las Vegas is currently comfortably home to two of the four major North American sports leagues. Helpfully, the stadiums are situated by a multi-billion dollar, fan-friendly tourism hub, the Las Vegas Strip, packed with hotel-casinos as far as the eye can see, and plenty of legal sports betting opportunities. It makes sense that, before long, Las Vegas could be home to teams in all four of the major professional sports leagues.

Oakland A’s MLB team exploring a move to Las Vegas

The Oakland A’s are currently negotiating with the city of Oakland for a new stadium. The team is considering a move to Las Vegas if that doesn’t work out. MLB has given the team approval to explore options outside of remaining in Oakland.

This is not a novel idea. The A’s are ripping a page right out of the Las Vegas Raiders playbook. Both teams shared the stadium currently known as RingCentral Colosseum. The Raiders negotiated with Oakland for a new stadium. When a deal couldn’t be reached, the Raiders were given the approval to relocate to Las Vegas in 2017.

The A’s are visiting Las Vegas this week to explore what the town has to offer. It appeared Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval attended the May 24 Golden Knights game, as evidenced on Twitter:

Among visits on the tour, officials will be exploring different potential stadium locations as well.

One location that could be on the list to visit is where Rio All-Suites Casino and Hotel is set, because, well, some rumors never die. However, details surrounding the possibility may change. The Rio has long been rumored to be imploded to make way for a baseball stadium. Circumstances at Rio have changed, however, there’s still a thread that could be pulled here. Caesars sold the property to a real estate developer. While there are plans for the hotel, it’s possible there’s still room on the massive plot of land to house a baseball stadium.

The A’s aren’t the first MLB team to use Las Vegas as leverage for a stadium upgrade. In 2019, Henderson pitched a new stadium concept to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team decided to remain in Arizona but the plan could be resurrected.

If a move to Las Vegas is approved and a new stadium is built, the A’s could play its home games at Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin during construction. The A’s AAA team, the Las Vegas Aviators currently play their home games at the stadium.

Overall, this move isn’t imminent or guaranteed. Exploring Las Vegas could all just be a way for the A’s to get a new stadium in Oakland.

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NBA expansion could happen in Las Vegas

In late 2020, NBA commissioner Adam Silver discussed the idea of expanding to recover revenue lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rumor is that the league in need of revenue could be asking for a $2.5 billion expansion fee for a new team. Las Vegas is one of the cities being considered for a new NBA team.

Las Vegas potentially being home to an NBA team isn’t exactly news. Back in 2016, then MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren was exploring opportunities to bring an existing NBA team to Las Vegas to play at T-Mobile Arena. Prior to leaving MGM Resorts in 2020, Murren said he expects Las Vegas will be home to an NBA team within a few years.

Murren is no longer with MGM Resorts but the company still has ties to the NBA. MGM Resorts is the presenting sponsor of the NBA Summer League which will return to Las Vegas this summer. The casino operator is also an official gaming partner of the league.

MGM Resorts may not be the reason the NBA expands to Las Vegas but the close relationship can’t hurt. Expect to hear more rumors about Las Vegas becoming home to an NBA team, however the league doesn’t appear to be planning on making any expansion announcements until after the 2021-2022 season.

Photo by John Locher / Associated Press
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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