PHOTO: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (Courtesy MGM Resorts)
Las Vegas is bidding to become America’s next great sports city.
Already secure in its place as the premier ‘big fight’ destination for boxing, Vegas also has a National Hockey League expansion franchise set to begin play in the city in the fall of 2017, ownership of the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League have discussed relocating the franchise to the city, and world soccer legend David Beckham has talked of owning a Major League Soccer franchise in Las Vegas.
Now, the National Basketball Association is its next target.
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren, whose company funded half of Las Vegas’ new T-Mobile Arena that opened earlier this year, said he is hoping to lure an existing NBA franchise to the city.
“Imagine the thought of having a professional hockey team, a professional football team, a professional soccer team, probably a professional basketball team — I’m working on that,” Murren said during an interview with Nevada public radio station KPNR. "It wouldn't be an expansion team. It would most likely be relocation of a team."
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The question is, which team?
Had this topic come up three, four years ago, Murren would have had his choice between the Sacramento Kings or Milwaukee Bucks. But both of those cities came up with new arena deals for their respective teams, taking those options off the table.
Las Vegas also has stiff competition from the city of Seattle, which lost its SuperSonics franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008 and desperately wants NBA basketball to return.
Murren has already helped lure the NHL and said he supports the plan proposed by fellow Las Vegas business giant Sheldon Adelson to build a $1.9 billion domed stadium in order to bring the NFL’s Raiders to town.
Murren said all of this was “an impossible dream just 18 years ago.”
“I do believe over time that we will be able to convince ownership in the NBA to relocate a team here,” he added.