Las Vegas has bounced back from the pandemic unbelievably well. The city has seen visitors come back in record numbers even with most of the world still not being able to travel easily to the United States.
After literally having to close due to the covid pandemic, the city’s casinos, led by Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Caesars Entertainment Inc Report and MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report on the Las Vegas Strip fought through restrictions, canceled conventions, and other woes to build their business back to where it was before the pandemic.
In the past few months, Sin City saw a return-to-normal March Madness and a triumphant National Football League (NFL) Draft that took over the Strip drawing huge crowds. The NFL has, in fact, been a huge part of the Las Vegas comeback as the Raiders drew sellout crowds last season, driving traffic to Caesars, MGM, and other casino operators.
The Raiders followed the Las Vegas Golden Knights, a National Hockey League team that plays at T-Mobile Arena, located in the heart of the Strip. That success has led to Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics eyeing locations on the Strip and multiple NBA-ready arenas being built on the Strip.
Speculation has been rampant that the NBA would bring a team to Las Vegas but there appears to be a major problem.
Will the NBA Expand to Las Vegas and Seattle?
An NBA team could come to Las Vegas in one of two ways:
- An existing team could move to the city.
- The league could add new “expansion” teams as the NHL did with the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
In the NFL and Major League Baseball, it always seemed obvious that Oakland’s professional sports teams would be interested in a move to Las Vegas. Both had an inferior home stadium/arena and Oakland isn’t actually that far from Las Vegas meaning that both teams could move and still (sort of) keep their existing fan base.
Scroll to Continue
There’s no NBA team that meets the same criteria. Every team looking for a new arena will use Las Vegas for leverage, but there’s no franchise that looks poised to make the move.
That means Las Vegas’ best path to adding an NBA team to the Las Vegas Strip would be the league expanding and adding a new franchise. That does not seem likely to happen, according to a Sports Illustrated article.
The NBA Has No Expansion Plans
It’s easy to see why the NBA would want a team in Las Vegas — it’s a global stage with sellouts nearly guaranteed — but adding a team is a big deal. Expanding the league does bring in a one-time expansion fee that existing owners would split, but it also means those same owners have to split their TV revenue with one more owner.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the expansion rumors in a press conference before game one of the league’s championship series.
“We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver said. “As I’ve said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand, just not at this moment.”
Silver did not entirely close the door on expansion and said that when it does happen, it would likely be done by adding two teams to bring the league from 30 to 32 franchises.
Should expansion happen at some point in the future, it is widely expected that Las Vegas and Seattle would be the favorites to land teams.
Adding an NBA team would be a traffic driver for Las Vegas. The Golden Knights essentially sell out 41 home games (and most years some playoff games) bringing 18,000 or so fans to the Strip for each game. Those fans spend money at the many Caesars and MGM properties near T-Mobile Arena.
An NBA team would be a similar — and perhaps even a bigger — driver of traffic and revenue.