Image credit: The NHL’s Golden Knights paved the way for major league sports in Las Vegas when they began play in 2017. (Jeff Botari/Getty Images)
This is part of a larger feature on possible MLB expansion. To see the full series, click here.
Like Portland, Las Vegas was part of the discussion when the Expos relocated. A big difference between then and now is that gambling is now part of the MLB landscape. Lou Weisbach was part of the conversation in the early 2000s, so he and former big leaguer Steve Stone know the MLB landscape.
Population (CSA): 2,455,481 (rank: 26)
DMA: 757,400 (rank: 40)
Major Pro Teams: Golden Knights (NHL), Raiders (NFL)
Clubs That Claim Broadcast Market: Angels, Dodgers, Padres, D-backs, Giants, A’s
Four Businesses of Interest: MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, Johnson Electric, Caesars Entertainment
Organized effort: Lou Weisbach, Steve Stone
Pluses: If MLB comes to Vegas, they can largely thank the Golden Knights for helping to ease concerns about whether not just locals but tourists would spend time away from casinos. And unlike the city of Portland, which isn’t exactly pro development, Vegas seems to sprout buildings faster than they can be planned. Oh, and about being able to wager on baseball— wouldn’t it make sense that Sin City locals invest in the home team?
Minuses: While the Golden Knights prove fans will come out for pro sports, when you throw in not only the NHL, but soon the NFL with the relocating Raiders, it becomes a question as to how diluted the market will become? Another issue is that the TV market size is exceptionally small. After all, outside of Vegas you’re really only broadcasting to desert scrub brush.
Open Questions: Who else can Weisbach pull in? There needs to be a hefty amount of money to get the land, build the ballpark and pay the expansion fees. And while there are six clubs that call Vegas their broadcast market, let’s be honest, we really don’t know how that works for a potential expansion club. It may actually work in Vegas’ favor (“Six was always too much to begin with. Let’s give Vegas a shot.”) or against (“Yes, six is a lot of clubs that claim the market, so why not just make it seven?”).