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Vegas: good for sin, bad for sports

By: Corey Parkinson

Who is expecting a sport played on ice to survive in the desert?

Who is expecting a sport played on ice to survive in the desert?

Las Vegas! The city of sin; known for bachelor parties, ‘the strip’ and gambling. And beginning in 2017-2018, a new NHL franchise which is set to play at the new T-Mobile Arena. While seemingly a good thing it is clearly a double edged sword.

In January of this year the idea of pro sports ending up in Las Vegas became more of a reality when after the Oakland Raiders were denied relocation to Los Angeles in favor of the Rams and in the future, the Chargers. Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders, started testing the waters for a move to Las Vegas. Then the big announcement by the NHL in June that an expansion team would begin play in 2017-2018 in downtown Las Vegas.

For years the biggest argument against putting a professional sports team has been that the city is based around gambling. Anymore that really is not an issue with plenty of other states legalizing gambling and there being no problem with it. But there are so many other reasons why professional sports in Sin City seem destined to fail.

After being denied relocation to Los Angeles, the Raiders are looking into moving to Las Vegas.

After being denied relocation to Los Angeles, the Raiders are looking into moving to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas has had a history of sports before currently home of the minor league baseball Las Vegas 51’s. Previous teams that have called Las Vegas home include the Outlaws of the infamous XFL, The Posse of the CFL and even a team in the now defunct UFL, the Locomotives.

None of these teams lasted more than a couple seasons and all saw declining fan bases during their perspective tenure. A huge issue facing teams in Las Vegas until recently was the lack of a suitable venue. Sam Boyd Stadium is by NFL standards insufficient in capacity size and other venues such as the Thomas & Mack Center, MGM Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center are either too old or architecturally inadequate. the T-Mobile Arena, which opened this year, has a capacity of 17,500. For NHL games, it will be one of the smallest arenas in the league.

The lack of permanent residents in Las Vegas also presents an issue of consistency within the fan base. Las Vegas has a population of 583,756 year around. It is a tourist town based on the appeal of legalized gambling and promiscuity. Although smaller cities do have multiple sports teams, such as Baltimore and Kansas City, and those teams do extremely well, attendance wise Las Vegas is a tourist town and no Las Vegas based team has ever succeeded based on attendance. Reason being, there are so many things to do in Las Vegas besides saving up money to head to an NHL, NBA or NFL game.

And it is not like Las Vegas has a natural hockey fan base either. Multiple reports have Nevada with less than 2,000 participants in youth hockey, making it one of the least participating states in the country. If a hockey-crazy city like Hartford could not support NHL team, how are we supposed to buy into a city in the middle of a desert supporting it?

There are many cities that could support a pro sports team that would not fall into these issues and would also have a more stable fan base necessary to keep a team. Las Vegas is neither. The city of sin is not a city viable for sports teams as it presents too much risk with low reward. Most NHL teams in southern stats carry low attendance and low fan support. Putting teams in Las Vegas will only cause a bad reaction. The Arizona Coyotes suffer from this same issue and have long been discussed a team up for relocation due to poor fan attendance. San Diego in the NFL also suffers from this same issue as their attendance is trending downwards over the years due to the plethora of other things to do when visiting that city. That was what cost Los Angeles an NFL team for an extended period of time.

When you have a million options like casinos, the Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, Boxing and UFC, you’re not going to revolve a Sunday afternoon around NFL games and fans are not rushing to play ice hockey in Las Vegas, Nevada. While Vegas is a wonderful and diverse city it is a city of many attractions that will ultimately negatively impact pro sports.

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Corey Parkinson

Staff Writer
Corey grew up a sports fanatic and an athlete. A baseball player up until he was 18, his passion and love for the game has remained unchanged. From the time he was five if it involved a ball that you threw or kicked, Corey was all in. His passion for journalism began at the age of 10 when he wrote a play about a World Series involving the Seattle Mariners and The New York Mets. As a Sports Media and Marketing major currently at Full Sail University, Corey is working his way to becoming an MLB beat writer. Writing for has given him the platform to share his knowledge and passion for sports and primarily his undying love for baseball.

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