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OVG Eyes NBA Team For Proposed Las Vegas Arena And Entertainment District

OVG is planning on a Las Vegas NBA team to become one of the key tenants in a potential new arena and entertainment district.

Las Vegas Skyline at Night with NBA logo and $10 billion entertainment district in Las Vegas
Photo by PlayUSA
Marc Meltzer Avatar
4 mins read

Last year Oak View Group (OVG) announced its intentions to build an arena in Las Vegas. In addition to an arena, the entertainment district slated for Las Vegas Blvd. three miles south of Mandalay Bay would include a casino and hotel.

The initial announcement said that OVG hoped to break ground on the massive project sometime this year. Construction hasn’t started and the company has been quiet about plans until this month.

OVG Chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke have been making the rounds and sharing plans for the future of the company that is behind new arenas in Seattle and Long Island, NY. Of course, he also offered new information about OVG’s plans for Las Vegas.

While details are still sparse, the scope and potential timeline for this new entertainment district have changed.

Plans for the OVG complex in Las Vegas

During the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance 2023 Perspective conference, Leiweke said the company is still planning to open an arena in Las Vegas. He says the company hopes to have all permits secured by the end of the year. The project might break ground on the entertainment district next year.

Initially, the budget for the arena and entertainment complex was to be built on 25 acres and cost $3 billion. OVG has expanded the plans and everything will occupy 66 acres. The budget has also increased.

Leiweke recently told Billboard that “the biggest bet we’ve ever made is our project in Las Vegas.” He wasn’t exaggerating.

According to KTNV, the company has already invested $27 million in the property. OVG says it has $1 billion in private financing already in place.

The budget for the entire entertainment district has exploded to $10 billion. OVG plans to devote $1 billion from that budget to build a 20,000-seat arena.

The company is planning to build a state-of-the-art arena with the latest technology to compete in the arena-heavy market. Leiweke says to expect to see plans for the arena soon. He also said:

“T-Mobile was my last deal at AEG. It’s a nice arena, but it pales in comparison to what we just built in Seattle, New York and Austin. How do you have the No. 1 live-entertainment marketplace in the world and its arena is not one of the 30 nicest arenas in the country?”

The price of the venture might be so high because Leiweke says the company will not use public financing to subsidize the project. Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo recently signed a bill that would give the Oakland A’s up to $380 million in incentives if the team builds a stadium and moves to Las Vegas.

Thoughts about bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas

Since the initial announcement of this entertainment district, OVG said its intention in building this arena is to house an NBA team. The league hasn’t committed to bringing a team to Las Vegas just yet.

Rumors about an NBA team coming to Las Vegas have been floating around for years. In 2016, then MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said he was pursuing an NBA team to play at T-Mobile Arena.

Last year rumors about an NBA team calling Las Vegas its home heated up again when Bill Simmons of the Ringer mentioned the idea on his podcast.

During the podcast, Simmons said Fenway Sports Group was the leading group to bring an NBA franchise to Las Vegas. He also mentioned that LeBron James wants to be involved with a potential Las Vegas NBA team.

It’s probably not a coincidence that James is a partner with Fenway Sports Group. According to the Sports Business Journal, he increased his investment in the company this year.

The NBA continues to say it isn’t ready to expand just yet. However, the topic is somewhere in the back of their heads.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently teased at Forbes that Seattle and Las Vegas could become home to an NBA team if the league expands.

Expect to hear more about an NBA team coming to Las Vegas this summer. NBA Summer League Las Vegas begins in early July. In addition to the games, this is considered a summer camp for NBA players and executives.

The addition of NBA Con to the Summer League calendar will bring even more executives, media outlets, and basketball tastemakers to Las Vegas where they will undoubtedly discuss the idea of the league expanding.

More than sports, it’s an entertainment district including a casino

The OVG entertainment district would be more than just an arena for an NBA team. It should include at least a hotel and a Las Vegas casino.

Leiweke helped build the LA Live complex in Los Angeles. The entertainment area includes Arena (formerly Staples Center), Microsoft Theater, multiple hotels, and restaurants. He also helped MGM Resorts develop T-Mobile Arena when working with AEG.

Leiweke’s co-founder is longtime music industry executive Irving Azoff. Music will likely play a large role should OVG build this entertainment district in Las Vegas.

Is there a need for another arena in Las Vegas? The Sphere at The Venetian is slated to join the already crowded entertainment market when it opens later this year.

Leiweke thinks there are plenty of opportunities to fill an arena. During his Billboard Q&A Leiweke said, You could add New York and LA together, and they don’t do as much live entertainment as Vegas.”

While an NBA team won’t be the only tenant in an arena it appears to be the cornerstone of the entertainment complex. Plans for the OVG arena should emerge as the NBA clarifies its position on expanding to Las Vegas.

Marc Meltzer Avatar
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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.

View all posts by 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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