World Series of Poker to World Series?
The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, is involved in another rumor about a possible sale. However, the particularly juicy tidbit to this rumor is that the off-Strip property may be torn down and replaced with a new Major League Baseball stadium.
The rumor comes courtesy of Vegas blog Vital Vegas. The blogger has been right often enough to warrant more than a glance.
We'll up the ante on our Rio sale rumor with another juicy tidbit: As we've shared, could very well be a land play. New rumor suggests Rio could be demolished, site to be developed as (wait for it) Major League Baseball ballpark.
— Vital Vegas (@VitalVegas) October 8, 2018
We cannot stress enough that this rumor is exactly that: a rumor. Though whispers of a Rio sale aren’t exactly new, there has been no confirmation from anyone at Caesars Entertainment about plans for the property.
However, Vital Vegas is also reporting that Rio is scaling back its food service operations dramatically. The property is reducing its room service availability and mostly shutting down the butler service at its Palazzo Villa suites.
The blog speculates that this drawdown is due to the impending sale. To ascribe that sort of causality seems a bit premature at this point, and the moves don’t really reflect any kind of preparation or cost savings for a potential buyer, but it is part of the scuttlebutt.
Golden Knights’ success may be paving the way for an MLB team
Though the mention of a Major League Baseball stadium seems to come out of nowhere, there is some credibility to the notion that the big leagues would come to Nevada. For starters, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said as much during a radio show last July.
On the July 17 edition of The Dan Patrick Show, Manfred had this to say about expansion to the desert:
“I think Vegas is a viable expansion alternative. I think it’s big enough.”
Manfred hedged on anything definitive beyond that statement, however. He said his biggest priorities were to address the stadium issues facing the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays.
Of course, since that time, Oakland has managed to solve its problem. The city tapped world-famous architect Bjarke Ingels to design and construct a state-of-the-art facility to house the city’s remaining professional sports team.
Ironically, Las Vegas is responsible for part of Oakland’s loss of sports franchises. The Oakland Raiders will move to the desert city in 2020.
Thanks to that move and the almost-overnight success of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas is rapidly becoming a sports destination. So, even though there’s nothing to take to court about a Rio demolition and subsequent stadium, there is some credibility to the notion.
On the other hand, Las Vegas has been home to a AAA baseball team for many years. In fact, the Las Vegas 51s are moving into an ultra-posh, brand-new ballpark in 2019, so it does stretch belief that a big league franchise and a stadium would show up so soon afterward.
Maybe, maybe not
A sale of the Rio would also create a complication regarding the home of the World Series of Poker. The pinnacle of the poker year has held court at the Brazilian-themed casino every June since 2005.
Back in early August 2018, Vital Vegas floated a rumor that the WSOP would move into the new Caesars Convention Center once construction on the $375 million property completed. At the time, a spokesman from Caesars flatly denied the rumors of a move for the tournament series, and that was the last word about the issue.
So, for now, whispers about big-time baseball in the desert will have to remain unconfirmed. However, another run at a Stanley Cup or a resurgent Raiders team in the Super Bowl might start the conversation for real.
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