Will the NBA or the NHL Put a Team in Las Vegas?

The city has been taboo for pro sports but a new arena and the lack of other options may change that.

Jun 17, 2014 at 2:13PM

Las Vegas has emerged as one of the last untapped markets that could house and support a professional sports franchise.

Though fears about gambling, player safety, and the lure of Vegas nightlife are concerns, they are outweighed by the lure of the riches offered by the casinos. Boxing and mixed martial arts have long benefited from shows held in the gambling mecca because the resorts and casinos buy up most of the tickets in order to give them to wealthy guests. This should allow the National Hockey League or the National Basketball Association to place a team in the city and have it be immediately lucrative. Think sold-out luxury suites, high-end sponsors, and revenue opportunities that are not present in many markets.

Jason Hellmann, Daniel Kline, and Jake Mann debated the pros and cons of either league moving a team to Las Vegas on the latest edition of Business Take, the show that gives you the Foolish perspective on the most important business stories of the week.

Mann pointed out that in addition to its ticket-selling lure, Vegas is a bigger market than Jacksonville, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City -- all of which have pro sports franchises.

"From a financial standpoint it makes sense," he said. "And they have a new arena that seats about 20,000 people."

The main concern, Mann said, is that Las Vegas is the gambling center of the United States and that since all pro sports leagues have policies against players betting on their own sport, that has kept teams away from the city in the past.

"It's more an issue with the visiting team," Kline said. "If you come in once a year as the visiting team, there is a little bit too much nightlife, a little bit too much temptation. Of course, the same could be said about Miami."

Kline explained that while the city would be a logical location for the NBA, which held an all-star game there, it makes more financial sense for the NHL.

"The NHL is a ticket sales driven league," he said. 

The major issue with Vegas is that while the TV market is bigger than some, it might not be big enough to justify moving an NBA team. For the NHL -- which has a struggling franchise in Phoenix -- the lure of sold-out crowds should be enough to make up for the fact that the local TV deal wouldn't be as lucrative as one in a bigger market might be.

Do you think moving to Vegas makes sense for a pro sports league? Would it be better for the NHL or the NBA? Watch the video for the full story, then leave your comments below.

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