20 February 2007

The NBA in Vegas: One Night Stand or Long-Term Relationship?

NOTE: This is the first official post of the newest member of the “Lion in Oil” crew who will be known for your purposes as “The Animal.” Don’t ask him how he got that nickname – but just realize that he can be very loud, especially when intoxicated, something he likes to do often. He also brings some diversity to the blog, having been a former sports columnist for The Michigan Daily and supports the Chicago Cubs.

Well, another NBA All-Star weekend has come and gone, and the entourages and stretch Hummer Limos that make up America's Hip-Hop scene will have to disperse for another 362 days (Get ready New Orleans!).

But the question that still remains is – beyond should be done, if anything, to improve a pretty boring game – was the affair between the NBA and Las Vegas a one-night stand or the beginning of a long-term relationship?

Most NBA fans heard David Stern give the softest stance a major pro sports commissioner has ever given towards the Sin City last weekend when he basically said that the owners would call the shots towards having a team in Vegas, leaving the proverbial door open for a franchise.
While this weekend proved what we already know – that anyone would be willing to come to Vegas for a good party – did it really prove that Vegas needs the NBA or that the NBA needs Vegas?

I, personally, say no to both questions.

You could argue that if there is one city that doesn't need a professional sports franchise – that city would be Vegas. People not only come from all over North America but all over the world for the things you can do in Vegas, mainly the gambling, the shopping, the shows, the strip clubs and the Thunder from Down Under. (Just kidding on the last one) If most Americans wanted to go watch NBA hoops in person, they wouldn't fly 1,500 miles. Most American cities need major league sports in order to improve its stature as a major league city. Vegas pretty much has its reputation carved out already.

Las Vegas Mayor and former mob lawyer Oscar Goodman has made it his personal mission to lure a team, and there is speculation that if Sacramento cannot upgrade Arco Arena that the Maloof Brothers, who own the Kings, would move their team to the same town as their Palms Casino.

But would an NBA franchise even survive in Vegas? The city doesn't even rank within the nation's top 40 TV markets. And, unlike many franchises in smaller cities, such as the Green Bay Packers, there is absolutely no regional population to draw fans from outside the market.

Yes, Vegas is one of America's fastest growing cities, but it still does not likely have a strong corporate base necessary to keep a pro franchise healthy. The only hope for a Vegas franchise would be for casinos to buy out suites for their high rollers. But, even then, what kind of draw would a suite be for a Kings-Hornets game on a Tuesday night when there are 50 other things to do that they can't do at home? And, are the people who moved to Vegas, mainly to work for either a casino or in construction, going to spend $70 a piece on tickets?

If I were Oscar Goodman, I would focus my time towards keeping Vegas a must see destination for anyone over 21 (and considering the reports of arrests this weekend, a little more police wouldn’t hurt either), not towards making it like everywhere else – just another city.

5 comments:

Derek Nelson said...

Hey! You! "admin@lioninoil.com" doesn't work for me! It's bounced back two of my e-mails! Do you know what's wrong with it?! Probably nothing that can't be solved with a good, 'ol fashioned exclamation point!

Fun Sheriff said...

Duly noted. There's a new email up in place of the old.

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