The city of Las Vegas is reportedly on the hunt for a third major sports team.
For many years, Las Vegas was denied a major sports team amid concerns about potential gambling interference. In the last few years, however, the city has become the home of two major sports teams, first welcoming the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, then the NFL’s transplanted Oakland Raiders—now called the Las Vegas Raiders—in 2020.
From the sounds of it, the city hopes to become the home a third team in the near future — specifically, the MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
Buzz about the Athletics relocating to Las Vegas reached a fever pitch after club president Dave Kaval attended a Golden Knights playoff game in the city, and from the sounds of it, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is all for the move, noting the way other sporting events have boosted tourism revenue in the city.
“We believe live sporting events are a draw for our visitors,” Lori Nelson-Kraft, senior vice president of communications and public affairs with the LVCVA, told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We’ve seen visitation increase to the destination with annual events such as the National Finals Rodeo, UFC events and NASCAR, but also see the opportunity to drive further visitation with our professional sports teams.”
Professional baseball teams like the Athletics play a dizzying 81 home games in a season, which has skeptics concerned that Las Vegas would struggle with filling seats. However, baseball games could become a common feature of visitors’ itineraries—just like Golden Knights and Raiders games have.
Jeremy Aguero, who monitors the Southern Nevada economy with Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, estimates that 15 to 20 percent of the 18,000 seats at Golden Knights home games are occupied by visitors. Furthermore, 22,000 of the 55,000 personal seat licenses sold for Raiders home games went to people from outside Las Vegas—including 7,000 from the team’s former home of Oakland.
Needless to say, there’s precedent for major sports teams surviving and even thriving in Las Vegas with a little help from out-of-towners.
Rob Dondero, executive vice president of R&R, the LVCVA’s advertising agency of record, certainly think the Athletics could follow that precedent.
“Do sports add tourism to Las Vegas? Absolutely,” Dondero told LVRJ. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s a fairly new segment. We’ve always had boxing or special events and NASCAR has done very well here.
“I believe that with the proliferation and acceptance of sports betting, a lot of the leagues said, ‘OK, now Las Vegas is attainable to us. We’re OK to go there because sports betting is everywhere now,’ ” Dondero said. “I think that had a lot to do with the acceptance and helped the restrictions and rules that kept these leagues from looking at Las Vegas.”