As sports in Las Vegas continue to grow, so do rumors about what the city’s next sports league or sporting event will be.
Recent headlines about the growing Las Vegas sports scene have been dominated by the potential relocation of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball to Las Vegas.
But just before, the mayors of both cities took their respective shots through the media. A new $3 billion plan to build a casino, hotel and arena-resort project was announced by Oak View Group, projected to span 25-acres of land on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, near Blue Diamond.
The group said the project’s main intention is to be the home arena for a National Basketball Association team should the league decide to expand in the 20,000 seat arena on the property. This has helped add fuel to the fire of longstanding rumors that the NBA would expand to Las Vegas.
Oak View Group said the new project will break ground sometime next year, but no concrete details have been announced as to when it will take place or open. However, the announcement doesn’t mean that the NBA will come to Las Vegas.
There are also no concrete details as to whether the NBA would expand to Las Vegas or expand at all anytime soon.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said back in October that the league is not at the point of expansion, even though he followed it up saying Las Vegas will be on a list if they do decide to expand.
The NBA could decide to expand later this year, or five years from now. The bigger question centers around the new arena-resort project, which would bring another multi-purpose arena to Las Vegas, which already has plenty.
The big events arenas in the city are T-Mobile Arena, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Thomas & Mack Center, the soon to open MSG Sphere and Allegiant Stadium. It’s hard to imagine another coming into the fold even as Las Vegas continues to grow.
Before the plans get put into motion for this arena, the Oak Hill Group will need the NBA to commit to coming to Las Vegas and will need to have a list of events that would plan to come there, and not the other arenas in the city.
“They would want to do their due diligence and actually talk with concert promoters or sports teams to see if they actually can get a team to come in,” said Dr. David Schawtz, a gaming historian at UNLV. “It’s a lot of money to invest. So like any business, they would want to do their due diligence and make sure there’s a demand for it before they build it.”
Too many arenas in Las Vegas run the risk of oversaturation of these arenas in the city. If this arena gets built, and if an NBA team decided to come, that would only guarantee 41 dates, plus a few preseason games and possible playoff games, but that’s still less than 60 days that the arena would be in use. T-Mobile Arena averages more than 100 per year, according to the company.
And the issue of trying to fill the venue only comes up if this arena even gets built. We have seen the All Net Resort & Arena plan that initially planned to open in late 2016 be pushed back. It was reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal that this project would begin construction this year.
But the original plan for the All Net Arena was for it to host the NBA back when the plans were first announced.
So what if both arenas are built and the NBA decides to go to All Net Arena? Then what’s the purpose of the arena for the Oak Hill Group project?
It could leave the arena from the Oak Hill Group without a tenant, leaving the time and resources to put it together to waste with plenty of other options that are on the Strip, closer to other hotels.
Could they find events for the arena? Absolutely. But it’s highly unlikely that they will get all the events they want or pull other events away from arenas in the city.
For the city and community, it’s a great sign that people are willing to invest in the city. But it’s almost impossible to see the benefits of another arena if no teams or events are committed to going there yet.
Too many similar arenas in the city will hurt them all as major events will decrease existing arenas and not as many will come to the new ones. Schwartz makes the comparison to when a team has to move and the city cannot support it anymore.
“If you look at professional sports in the United States, teams are always relocating,” Schwartz said, “so I think this is something that every metropolitan area grapples with. I think when teams have to start moving, that’s when we’ll have oversaturation.”
Don’t start saving for your Las Vegas NBA team season tickets yet. Just like you shouldn’t start planning to visit Oak Hill Group’s arena.