Capital of Second Chances. The Entertainment Capital of the World. The Marriage Capital of the World. The Gambling Capital of the World. Sin City. These are some of the names that most people would associate with the city that has a metropolitan population of 1,951,269. But one of the names that Las Vegas also garners is "The Major City Without a Professional Sports Team". Why is this the case? The reason is not just because of the gambling culture and adult entertainment.
It's obvious that the concerns about illegal sports betting dampers the chances of a professional sports team in Las Vegas. However, that isn't the main reason for why there's an absence of a team in the area. The competition for the entertainment dollar in Las Vegas is congested. According to the American Gaming Association, the Vegas Strip generated the most annual casino revenue in 2012 at $6.207 billion. That's twice the revenue of the second-best casino market in the U.S., Atlantic City. A Vegas sports team will not only be competing with businesses in the Las Vegas Strip, but will also have to compete with the big names that are at the Strip. Shows like the Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, and Celine Dion are a few of the big names that perform on the Strip.
Another issue with having a sports team in Vegas is the television market. Las Vegas is the 42nd-largest TV market in the United States. This ranks behind the likes of Hartford/New Haven (#30), Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville/Anderson (#36), West Palm Beach/Ft. Pierce (#38), Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo/Battle Creek (#39), Birmingham (#40), and Harrisburg/Lancaster/Lebanon/York (#41), all of which don't have professional sports teams like Vegas. Of course, there are markets like Buffalo (#51) and New Orleans (#53) that have multiple sports teams and have a smaller market than Vegas. But those are only two of the six markets have a sports team if you consider Green Bay to be separate from Milwaukee.
One other problem that Las Vegas has is the lack of a suitable venue. The Thomas & Mack Center, which has hosted the 2007 NBA All-Star Game and is the main venue for WWE events in Las Vegas, is thirty years old. The MGM Grand Garden Arena (Built in 1993) isn't much younger, not to mention the fact that it's located right in the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Building a new arena is no easy task, either. The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, the region's powerhouse marketing organization, has been sidelined from proposing a new NBA/NHL arena because of the corporate competition that the arena issue presents. Even Palms owner George Maloof has stated that they can't build an arena in Vegas without taxpayer assistance. He also added that the state's financial crisis proves that now isn't the best time to build one.
Overall, the problem with Las Vegas having a professional sports team doesn't just stem from the gambling culture. There's also the competition for the entertainment dollar, the television market, and a lack of a suitable venue. It might seem odd that Sin City doesn't have a local team to look for. But Las Vegans are hoping that that thought will be wiped away in the near future.