Since the announcement that the NBA would purchase the New Orleans Hornets, rumors have started of a possible destination for the Hornets and star player PG-Chris Paul. New Orleans wants nothing more than to keep their basketball team, and some believe that this is a good thing for the Hornets, but by opening the door, the NBA has just unleashed the devil, Sin City.
Las Vegas believes they are ready to take on the Hornets and the NBA, and with the emergence of the UNLV Running Rebels Basketball, Las Vegas looks like a possible destination for the Hornets and CP3.
The Hornets were about to default on loans to the NBA and were operating at a loss. According to financial documentation as of June 30, 2009, the partners’ deficit totaled $83 million and the NBA has spoken of possibility of contraction of the league, but Las Vegas and Mayor Oscar Goodman say hold on a minute.
The UNLV Rebels are coming off another solid year on the court and at the gates during which they averaged 13,917 fans, ranking 18th among the 333 basketball-playing schools. In opening night against a bad UC Riverside team, over 12,000 people came out to support their Rebels-2,000 more fans than the Hornets had against the Detroit Pistons the other night.
According to U.S. Department of Education data, UNLV’s $9.1 million in basketball revenue is the highest among Mountain West Conference schools. The Thomas & Mack Center, located on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas is a beautifully designed state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility which holds 20,000 people.
The average attendance of the NBA is somewhere around 16,000, and while there is no doubt the T&M would do the job if Las Vegas wants the Hornets, they may need to send a message by building a new state of the art dome on the strip to draw even more excitement and pizzazz.
Imagine Las Vegas looking like an L.A. Lakers game with fireworks, celebrities and big shots from everywhere.
One of the obstacles continues to be gambling and sports betting, but since the local ban was lifted off UNLV, there have been no issues or any problems reported.
One of the other obstacles hurting Las Vegas is their image. Titles of “Sin City” and “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” doesn’t help. Not to mention the general perception of the public who are confused and asking “there are actually schools out there?” Add on the fact that superstar athletes would be able to come to Vegas and gamble away millions (way to go Charles) or find themselves in trouble (Pac-man) could be what is holding Vegas back.
There is no doubt that Las Vegas has what it takes to hold a professional sports team and bring the Hornets west as it is the ultimate venue and destination.
After witnessing what happened back in the early 90s, watching Lon Kruger and the current UNLV Rebels and the success, some of the minor league teams Vegas can pull it off.
“Build it and the Hornets and the NBA will come.”