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Las Vegas May Add Another Huge Sports Franchise

Negotiations are underway on something big that could be a major driver for strip leaders Caesars and MGM.

For decades Las Vegas was off-limits for pro sports teams. The city was the only major U.S. city that allowed sports betting. That made it dangerous ground for professional athletes who were all apparently a legal betting window away from turning into Pete Rose.

Now, of course, sports betting has been legalized in more than half the country (30 states) with more to come. That opened up Las Vegas as a viable location for professional sports teams because while the city has more than its share of temptations than the average city, the presence of betting is no longer taboo. 

That made Las Vegas the perfect location for the National Hockey League, where the Golden Knights began playing during the 2017-18 season. Taking up residence at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, the team was an immediate hit with both locals and tourists.

With numerous Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Free Report and MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get Free Report casinos within walking distance of the arena, the Golden Knights have sold out consistently. That paved the way for the former Oakland Raiders to build a stadium just off the Strip to bring the National Football League to Las Vegas.

Now, a third professional sports team has moved from using Las Vegas as leverage with its current home to actually negotiating to buy a site on or adjacent to the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Golden Knights Lead

Major League Baseball Comes to Las Vegas

Las Vegas has been taboo for pro sports teams largely because of the threat of players betting on games. That's an action that has kept Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame and it's a threat highlighted by Rose himself sitting in exile from the sport, signing autographs most days in a memorabilia shop on the Strip.

With sports betting nearly everywhere, it's simply impossible for leagues to keep players away from the threat. That, plus the success of the Golden Knights and the Raiders, has made the city a possible location for every Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association team seeking leverage over its current home market.

Las Vegas has served as exactly that for the Oakland Athletics, a team playing in a small market in an outdated stadium. In theory, the team wanted to use the threat of moving to Vegas as a way to leverage Oakland into paying for a new stadium. That did not work, so the A's now appear to be headed to Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Athletics 

The A's have exchanged term sheets on at least four different Las Vegas sites "surrounding the Las Vegas Strip," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Team President Dave Kaval confirmed to the paper.

“All the sites and potential partners have pros and cons and we’re weighing those as we make a final decision and pick a final site, where an announcement would be made” Kaval said. 

“We’re just trying to look at all the aspects. Whether it’s media, the location, gaming, and what we could do in and around the ballpark and whether a casino is attached or not. All these different pieces to really create something that is truly unique, that’s exciting as an attraction and that can propel the A’s brand to another level.”

While Oakland still might make a last-ditch attempt to keep the team, Kaval has more or less made clear that the A's are moving to Las Vegas. That would give the city three of the four major sports leagues with only the NBA not having a Sin City presence.

Since an NBA team could, and likely would, play at T-Mobile Arena, that final piece of the puzzle could fall into place sooner rather than later. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has suggested that the league does have Vegas on its radar, according to Sports Illustrated's Fan Nation.

"It's on a list at the point that we do turn to expansion, which isn't right now, but at some point," Silver said in a Sports Business Journal video. "No doubt Vegas will be on the list."

Baseball would be a welcome addition to the Strip, or at least its general vicinity, because of the sheer volume of games. 

An NFL team has 8 or 9 home games while an NHL team plays 41. A pro baseball team would bring 81 homes, and that creates a lot of opportunities for fans of visiting teams to travel, filling up casinos during the summer and fall (with summer being a slower time for Las Vegas).