Oakland Athletics moving to Las Vegas: Why have so many sports teams moved there recently?
The sports franchises have avoided Las Vegas for a long time because of the “Sin City’s” association with the Las Vegas Strip’s hotels and casinos.
Las Vegas has undergone a significant transformation in the sports industry. Once considered a pariah, it has become one of the most desired destinations. Although Sin City has had a successful relationship with the NBA Summer League and a few conference basketball tournaments, it has historically been unable to attract pro teams and NCAA championships due to its association with gambling. However, major league sports franchises have finally overcome their reluctance and have brought teams to North America’s gambling capital.
Las Vegas has always had some minor-league baseball or hockey teams and has hosted some of the most high-profile boxing matches in history. There was a brief and ill-fated attempt by the Canadian Football League - the Las Vegas Posse - in the 1990s. In recent years, the city has become home to the headquarters of the UFC, the most successful professional mixed martial arts circuit in the world.
The transformation began in 2016 when the NHL announced plans for an expansion team in Las Vegas ahead of its board of governors meeting. With a $500-million US fee in the owners’ pockets, the Las Vegas Knights were created and won a title last season after just five years of existence.
Following this successful experiment, NFL team owners voted almost unanimously on March 27, 2017, to approve the (Oakland) Raiders’ application to relocate to Las Vegas. Nearly three years later, on January 22, 2020, the Raiders moved to Las Vegas.
Recently, the Oakland Athletics also finalized their transfer to Las Vegas, where they will start playing from the 2025 season and are expected to have their ballpark in 2028. The NBA is the only professional league without a team from the Nevada capital.
Nonetheless, the NBA has long been discussing ideal destinations for expansion franchises, and some big basketball names have expressed interest in being part of the ownership group if Las Vegas gets a team. Lakers forward LeBron James and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal are among them, but the latter is not interested in joining up with other investors.
Why are so many sports teams moving to Vegas?
For a long time, sports organizations have avoided Las Vegas due to its association with gambling and other vices. The fear of match-fixing and other forms of corruption was a significant concern. However, things have started to change in recent years, with the arrival of professional sports teams like the Las Vegas Raiders, the WNBA Aces, and the NHL champions Golden Knights.
Las Vegas has become a hub for professional sports teams, and locals are thrilled to have home teams to support.
In 2001, Nevada lifted a 40-year-old ban that prevented sportsbooks from accepting bets on teams based in the state. Although the change allowed residents to place bets on University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels games, it did not change the status quo. People had already been betting on UNLV games. With the rise of internet betting, it became even more accessible for Nevada residents to place bets. However, there was no evidence of match-fixing or other forms of corruption at the school.
There were concerns that young, newly wealthy professional athletes playing in a city known for its indulgences would be negatively impacted. However, leagues where sports betting is a regular feature have helped to allay those fears.
While it remains unclear if Las Vegas will host all major sporting leagues, the city has come a long way in the past few years. With many successful sports events in the city, it’s clear that anything is possible. The future of sports in Las Vegas looks promising, and the locals are excited to see what’s in store.