The city best known for gaming and casinos is quickly becoming a popular sports town. For years, sports commissioners balked at the idea of placing a franchise in Las Vegas, but it had potential as a valuable market to tap into.
The WNBA announced the San Antonio Stars will join the Golden Knights of the NHL as the next professional sports team to make Las Vegas its home city. The move comes not long after questions regarding the future of the league due to lack of interest, but the WNBA Finals just received its best TV ratings since 2003.
MGM purchased the Stars and received league approval to relocate the franchise to Vegas starting with the 2018 season. The team will play at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, with a seating capacity of 12,000.
With the NHL, WNBA, and NFL headed to Vegas, many wonder if the NBA could be the next league to locate a team there. The NBA was the first professional league to hold a major event in Vegas with the All Star game in 2007 and since 2004 the city has been home to their summer league. This past season, ESPN carried all 67 games from the Las Vegas Summer League on their networks and app.
As a supporter of legalized sports gambling, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has always been one to promote forward thinking. Silver’s previous concerns regarding a team in Vegas involved the size of their ticket base and TV market. The city is always filled with tourists, but leagues want their ticket sales to have a foundation of season ticket holders, not just daily sales from vacationers.
The NBA sets a goal of 10,000 season ticket holders for a franchise; the NHL’s Golden Knights surpassed that mark in their first season with 14,000 season tickets sold and could have sold out the entire 17,500 arena. The secondary market has been active with Golden Knights’ tickets, but it’s not from Casino’s buying and selling season tickets, 92% of the season ticket holders are individuals living in the county.
The San Antonio Stars games were broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest, which is available on cable providers in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, eastern New Mexico, and Arkansas. No announcement has been made regarding a new TV deal, or possible name change. The Las Vegas Golden Knights regional games are broadcast via AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, which is also the TV home of the Colorado Rockies and Utah Jazz.