Sports in the Las Vegas metropolitan area
There are many sports in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, most of which take place in unincorporated communities within the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League (NHL) will begin play in October 2017, while the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) will play in Las Vegas in the near future. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), located just off the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, fields National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I athletic teams. Sam Boyd Stadium, located in Whitney, hosts UNLV football; the Las Vegas Bowl, an annual NCAA bowl game; and the USA Sevens, the largest rugby tournament in North America. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) just north of the city hosts NASCAR's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and other automotive events. The National Finals Rodeo is held annually at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus, and the Professional Bull Riders World Finals, is held annually at T-Mobile Arena on the Strip.
- 1 List of teams
- 2 History
- 3 Major league professional teams
- 4 Proposed major league teams
- 5 Minor league professional teams
- 6 Former professional teams
- 7 College sports
- 8 Rugby union
- 9 Special sports events
- 10 Individual sports
- 11 Other events
- 12 Sports venues
- 13 See also
- 14 References
List of teams
|Las Vegas Raiders||Football||National Football League||Las Vegas Stadium (65,000)||2020 (planned)||0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Ice Hockey||National Hockey League||T-Mobile Arena (17,500)||2017||0|
|Las Vegas 51s||Baseball||Pacific Coast League (AAA)||Cashman Field (9,334)||1983||2|
|School||Team||League||Division||Primary Conference||Venue (capacity)|
|University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)||UNLV Rebels||NCAA||FBS||Mountain West||Sam Boyd Stadium (35,500)|
|College of Southern Nevada||CSN Coyotes||NJCAA||Division I||Scenic West||William R. Morse Stadium|
Las Vegas was one of the largest cities in the United States without a major league sports team prior to the entry of the Golden Knights into the NHL. Las Vegas is home to only one minor league sports team: the Las Vegas 51s of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (Minor League Baseball). The only team to actually play in the city of Las Vegas is the 51s, who play at Cashman Field. Due in part to perceived risks with legal sports betting, no major professional sports league had ever had a team in Las Vegas until the NHL decision to expand there came in June 2016, though the NBA's Utah Jazz played 11 home games at the Thomas & Mack Center in the 1983–84 season. The placement of a major league team in Las Vegas was an ongoing topic of discussion between city leaders and the professional sports leagues.
Past issues with major league sports
The most prominent issue was the perceived problem of legal sports betting. Traditionally, all four major professional sports leagues had strong anti-gambling policies, prohibiting their personnel from having any involvement in gambling. The NFL has taken the toughest stance, even refusing to accept Las Vegas tourism advertising for Super Bowl telecasts and threatening to file suit against any local hotels holding Super Bowl parties. In recent years hotels have gotten around the legal threat by referring to the Super Bowl as "The Big Game" rather than its actual name in advertising. However, in recent years, the perceptions that the four major professional sports leagues have of Las Vegas has changed. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he was in favor of regulated, legalized sports gambling, and the Oakland Raiders showed interest in moving to the city. The NHL became the first of the four professional sports leagues to land in Vegas, with an expansion team set to begin play in October 2017.
Some potential owners believe a professional sports franchise would have difficulty gaining an audience, given Las Vegas's numerous entertainment options. A number of professional football teams in the city have ranked at or near last in their leagues in attendance over the years, such as the Las Vegas Posse, Las Vegas Locomotives and arena football Las Vegas Outlaws. Las Vegas also has a high percentage of residents working in 24-hour occupations, many of whom work nights and weekends when most games would be played. Several owners of other sports franchises have disagreed. Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria described Las Vegas as "a potential gold mine" for a professional sports team owner. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also been quoted as saying that Las Vegas would be a good professional sports town.
Prior to the opening of T-Mobile Arena in April 2016, another major obstacle was the lack of suitable facilities. Cashman Field, Sam Boyd Stadium, the Thomas & Mack Center, MGM Grand Garden Arena, and Mandalay Bay Events Center are all inadequate to host a professional sports franchise beyond short term usage due to capacity, age or design. Harrah's Entertainment and the Anschutz Entertainment Group committed to building a new arena on a parcel of land behind Harrah's Paris and Bally's off the Strip, to be built to NHL and NBA standards. The arena was expected to open in the fall of 2010, but construction never began. Harrah's Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman said in a June, 2009 article in Las Vegas Business Press that his company was still committed to building the arena, but it was delayed by a lack of financing. On April 6, 2010 the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that three proposals had been made to build an arena of approximately 20,000 seats on or near the Strip to host professional basketball and hockey, rodeo, concerts and other events. All three proposals called for public money to be used for a portion of the construction cost. On November 5, 2013, Las Vegas news media reported plans for a joint-venture arena to be built on the Strip with the backing parties being AEG and MGM Resorts. Located at a former parking lot at the back of the Monte Carlo, T-Mobile Arena seats 20,000 and costs $350 million. Ground was broken on May 2014, with its opening on April 6, 2016.
There have been no announced plans to replace Cashman Field. Sam Boyd Stadium is scheduled to be replaced with a NFL facility that will be the home of the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV Football beginning in 2020.
Major league professional teams
National Hockey League
Las Vegas will be home to the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League (NHL) beginning in the 2017–18 NHL season. The Golden Knights are owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, a consortium led by Bill Foley, and will play at T-Mobile Arena. The team will be the first major league professional team in Las Vegas.
Prior to the Golden Knights, the National Hockey League had experience with Las Vegas beginning in 1991, when an outdoor game was held in Las Vegas, with the Los Angeles Kings facing the New York Rangers outside Caesars Palace in a preseason exhibition game. It carried thorough the years with an annual preseason exhibition game called Frozen Fury which was held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
National Football League
Las Vegas will be home to the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League beginning sometime after the 2017 NFL season. On March 27, 2017, NFL owners voted 31–1 to approve the Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas, who will continue to play at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland in 2017 and possibly longer, until their new stadium, the Las Vegas Stadium, is built in time for the 2020 NFL season.
Prior to the Raiders approved relocation to Las Vegas professional outdoor football had been attempted three times in the area. The first two attempts, the XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws and the Canadian Football League's Las Vegas Posse, were unsuccessful, with both teams folding after only one season of play. The XFL folded outright, while the Posse were a failure at the box office, part of the CFL's failed U.S. expansion attempt. A third attempt at professional football was begun in the fall of 2009 with the United Football League's Las Vegas Locomotives; however, the franchise and the league folded in 2012. The Locomotives played in the league's first three championship games, winning the first two in 2009 and 2010.
Proposed major league teams
Major League Baseball
In April 2004, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Bud Selig publicly revealed that baseball was considering Las Vegas as a potential home for the Montreal Expos. The lack of a baseball park that could be quickly reconfigured for Major League Baseball cost the city any chance of landing the team. Baseball eventually chose Washington, D.C., primarily because the city agreed to provide a new stadium built entirely with public funding.
A news item on a local television station dated August 26, 2010 reported that then Mayor Oscar Goodman was still actively pursuing a Major League Baseball franchise for the city. He was reportedly rebuffed by the owner of an unnamed team due to the small size of the market and the weak local economy.
National Basketball Association
Rumors surfaced in 2005 about the possible relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Las Vegas. In November 2006, California voters rejected a proposal to fund a new arena in Sacramento, considered to be a condition of the team remaining there. Another possible factor was that the owners of the Kings, the Maloof family, also owned the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Changes in the Kings owners' financial situation led to a decision to sell the club to a group planning to keep the team in Sacramento, which finalized the purchase of the Kings in May 2013.
Former UNLV student and National Basketball Association (NBA) player Jackie Robinson is working to build the All Net Resort and Arena, a $1.4 billion privately funded complex encompassing an arena, hotel and shopping project near the SLS Las Vegas and Turnberry Towers that could attract an NBA franchise to Las Vegas. The arena itself would cost $670 million, being operated by Comcast-Spectacor (owners of another NBA stadium, Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center). Designed by the Cuningham Group, it is planned to open in 2017. The All Net Arena saw its ground breaking ceremony on October 29, 2014, and Robinson is currently negotiating with Clark County expecting to begin construction by Fall 2015. All plans have since been cancelled as of November 2016.
Las Vegas hosted the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, the only time the event has been held in a non-NBA city. As part of the conditions the NBA set for holding the game in Las Vegas, sports books agreed not to take bets on the game. The NBA Summer League is currently held in Paradise, Nevada. The 2008 and 2012 United States men's Olympic basketball teams trained in Las Vegas, and played a game at the Thomas & Mack Center against the Dominican Republic.
In October 2016, during an interview with KNPR’s State of Nevada, MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren said he's working on bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas, to play at the T-Mobile Arena. "It wouldn’t be an expansion team,” Murren said. “It would most likely be the relocation of an existing team.”
Major League Soccer
The local media reported in the summer of 2008 that Las Vegas was on the short list of cities Major League Soccer (MLS) was considering for an expansion franchise in the near future. After a controversial campaign by Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Cordish Company to use public dollars for a new taxpayer-funded stadium, the proposal faced public backlash before MLS ultimately decided to pass on Las Vegas in February 2015.
Minor league professional teams
Las Vegas is home to the Las Vegas 51's of the Pacific Coast League (AAA) who play at Cashman Field. The 51's are the current AAA affiliate of the New York Mets and the only professional team that actually plays in the City of Las Vegas.
Fourth Division (amateur) Soccer
The Las Vegas Mobsters of the Premier Development League begun play in the Mountain Division of the Western Conference in 2014. Its first year they played on the UNLV campus before moving to various high schools in the Las Vegas Valley for the 2015 season.
Minor League sports issues
Since Cashman Field (the only sports facility the city owns) opened in 1988, all but three other cities in AAA baseball (Pawtucket, Tacoma and Portland) have opened new ballparks. Little has been done to improve Cashman since it opened. Because it lags so far behind most other facilities in AAA baseball there is also a danger that Las Vegas will lose its place in minor league baseball's top tier (which happened to Portland after the 2010 season, after plans for a new park fell through). Dissatisfaction with the facilities, along with the total lack of a plan to improve the situation, was cited as a major reason the Los Angeles Dodgers did not renew their working agreement with the Las Vegas 51s after it expired in 2008. The Dodgers resumed what had been a long-term affiliation with Albuquerque, where a new ballpark opened in 2003.
In 1999, UNLV officials refused to discuss a new agreement with the owners of the Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League to play at the Thomas & Mack Center. Hotels with facilities suitable for the Thunder would not commit to an entire hockey season, as this would have seriously restricted the dates available for concerts and other events. This left the Thunder without a place to play. The team was disbanded, and the city lost hockey for four years. Only the opening of a new arena (considerably smaller than the Thomas & Mack) at the off-Strip Orleans Hotel allowed for the return of hockey with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. The ECHL is considered two steps below the NHL, or the equivalent of the 'AA' level in minor league baseball. The Thunder was one step above that. The Wranglers ceased operations after the 2013-'14 season after Orleans Hotel owners Boyd Gaming informed the team that their lease at the Orleans Arena would not be renewed, and efforts to find a new location failed.
The Las Vegas Locomotives began play in October 2009 in the inaugural season of the United Football League. The Locos played in the first three UFL championship games, winning the first two against the Florida Tuskers, while losing the 2011 edition to the relocated Tuskers, then the Virginia Destroyers. The head coach was Jim Fassel, former head coach of the NFL's New York Giants. The team played home games at UNLV's Sam Boyd Stadium. The league suspended operations in the middle of the 2012 season, with Las Vegas undefeated through the first four games. Las Vegas, despite being the league's best and most consistent team on the field, was also consistently one of the poorest draws at the gate in the league; their final home game drew only 600 fans into the stadium, a league record low.
Af2, a second-tier arena football league, announced on June 24 that the ArenaCup, the league championship game, would be played in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena on August 22, 2009. Af2 President Jerry Kurs stated that the league had serious plans to put a team in Las Vegas to play at the Orleans Arena. He said that he had "no qualms" about this even given the problems that the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena Football League had in the city. This turned out to be the last season of af2 due to the demise of its parent league, the original Arena Football League.
Former professional teams
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels (the name Runnin' Rebels is used only by the men's basketball team) host Mountain West Conference events on the UNLV campus and eight miles (13 km) east, at Sam Boyd Stadium. Indoor sporting events are held at the Thomas & Mack Center complex, both at the main arena and at Cox Pavilion, a smaller arena attached to the complex.
The city has become a regional hub for college basketball conference tournaments. The Mountain West Conference holds their annual tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. Las Vegas hosted the tournament for the first seven years of the conference's existence, then the tournament returned to Las Vegas in 2009 after three years in Denver. In 2009 the West Coast Conference, which does not have a team in Nevada, moved their tournament to the Orleans Arena. The Western Athletic Conference moved their tournament to Las Vegas in 2011. The WAC also plays at the Orleans Arena.
On March 14, 2012 the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Pac-12 Conference was moving its men's basketball conference tournament to Las Vegas in 2013, to be played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The tournament remained at this venue through the 2016 edition, after which it moved to T-Mobile Arena.
Despite the state of Nevada having no collegiate wrestling itself, many of the most prestigious college wrestling events are held in the area each year. The Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational tournament has been held in the city since 1981. Some of the nations best wrestling teams, such as Michigan, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Iowa State, Ohio State and Northern Iowa often attend the event. Nearby Reno, also holds a huge wrestling tournament every year for both collegiate and high school wrestling known as The Reno Tournament of Champions.
Vegas, has also been home to many international amateur wrestling events. In 2015, Vegas held the World Wrestling Championships at Orleans Arena.
The USA Sevens, the largest annual rugby tournament in North America, has been held in Sam Boyd Stadium every year since 2010. The tournament had been held in late January or early February until 2016, when it moved to its current date of the first full weekend in March. The USA Sevens, one of the events in the annual World Rugby Sevens Series rugby sevens circuit, moved to Las Vegas from San Diego, where it had previously been held. The 2012 USA Sevens drew over 64,000 fans to the stadium and was broadcast live on NBC. The Sevens World Series is an annual series of tournaments for national sevens teams, with most events featuring 16 teams competing for two distinct trophies.
The 2017 edition marked the start of a new era for sevens in Las Vegas. For the first time, the USA Sevens was joined by the USA Women's Sevens, with both tournaments being held on the same weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium. The USA Women's Sevens has been part of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series since the circuit's creation in 2012–13; its first edition had been held in Houston before moving to suburban Atlanta for its next three editions.
Special sports events
The NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has drawn up to 165,000 fans. Las Vegas also hosts a significant number of professional fights. Many of these fights (such as those in MMA's UFC) take place near downtown or on the Strip in one of the major resort/hotel/casino event centers. Mandalay Bay is frequently a top contender as a venue for the UFC.
Las Vegas submitted a bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, but did so without United States Olympic Committee (USOC) consent. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires that a national Olympic committee nominates a city within their country followed by the submission of the bid to the IOC. The USOC stated that they would not submit a 2020 bid. Las Vegas proceeded without USOC support. The IOC reportedly rejected the bid. The day after the September 1, 2011 deadline for bidding, the IOC revealed the six applicant cities and Las Vegas was not one of them.
Las Vegas is host to many professional boxing matches and has hosted many championship bouts, including the following notable bouts:
- Larry Holmes vs. Muhammad Ali (1980)
- The Battle of the Little Giants (1981)
- Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns (1981, 1989)
- Larry Holmes vs. Gerry Cooney (1982)
- Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns (1985)
- Julio César Chávez vs. Meldrick Taylor aka Thunder Meets Lightning (1990)
- Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. vs. Hector Camacho Sr. (1992)
- Michael Carbajal vs. Humberto Gonzalez I (1993)
- Oscar De La Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (1996, 1998)
- The Bite Fight (1997)
- Fight of the Millennium (1999)
- Barrera vs. Morales trilogy (2000, 2002, 2004)
- Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather (2007)
- Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton (2007)
- Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Calzaghe (2008)
- Ricky Hatton vs. Manny Pacquiao (2009)
- Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (2015)
- Canelo Álvarez vs. Amir Khan (2016)
- Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward (2016)
Las Vegas hosts two pro tour events:
- PGA Tour Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (historically known as the Las Vegas Invitational)
- PGA Tour Champions Las Vegas Open
Mixed martial arts
Along with significant rises in popularity in mixed martial arts (MMA), a number of fight leagues such as the premier MMA organization in the world the UFC call Las Vegas home with the headquarters of world operations due to the number of suitable host venues with an annual international fight week held near July 4. The Mandalay Bay Events Center and MGM Grand Garden Arena are among some of the more popular venues for fighting events and have hosted several UFC and other MMA title fights, with the addition of the new T-Mobile Arena.
Las Vegas has become an internationally known motor racing locale, having hosted the elite Formula One racers at Caesars Palace and the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for Indy racers in the early 1980s. Las Vegas was also the home of the famed "Mint 400" Desert Race from 1968 to 1987 run in the unforgiving Nevada desert outside Las Vegas. Nearly 100,000 spectators lined the 100-mile (160 km) loop to view the 500 plus off-road racing vehicles. Sponsored by Del Webb's Mint Hotel and Casino, the event was the largest and richest event in the sport. The technical and safety inspection was held on famed Fremont Street and became one of the major must attend sporting events in Las Vegas history. The race ended when Del Webb organization sold the Mint Hotel to the adjacent Horseshoe owned by the legendary Binion gaming family.
Over the years, Vegas was the host for the Caesars Palace Grand Prix.
Las Vegas hosts these motor sports at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
- NASCAR Cup Series: Kobalt 400
- NASCAR Xfinity Series: Boyd Gaming 300
- NASCAR Truck Series: Las Vegas 350
- Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals (April)
- NHRA Toyota Nationals (November)
- Monster Jam World Finals at Sam Boyd Stadium (March)
Over the years, Las Vegas has housed many wrestling events for WWE such as WrestleMania IX at Caesars Palace, No Way Out (2001) housed at the Thomas & Mack Center, Vengeance (2005), Monday Night Raw, and No Way Out (2008). Las Vegas also hosted World Championship Wrestling's Halloween Havoc from 1996 to 2000 and TNA Wrestling's TNA Impact!
The National Finals Rodeo has drawn thousands of fans to the city since 1985, and a contract extension was signed in 2005 keeping the event in Las Vegas through 2014. The Professional Bull Riders circuit also holds its world finals in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has hosts three Professional Rodeo events:
- BigHorn Rodeo
- PBR World Finals (1994–) — Built Ford Tough World Finals
- National Finals Rodeo (1985–) — Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Wrangler National Finals Rodeo
Running and triathlon
- Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon — The marathon was originally organized by Al Boka in 1983, who eventually sold the marathon in 2005 to Devine Racing, a Chicago-based race organization company that is responsible for several other races, including the Los Angeles Marathon. Devine redubbed the race as "The New Las Vegas Marathon", and updated the course to include the Strip. Introduced on December 4, 2005, the new course marks one of the race occasions that the Strip is closed to traffic. Prior to that, the course had run on the old Los Angeles Highway, beginning in the community of Jean, Nevada, and ending inside Las Vegas proper (Sunset Park). Additionally in 2005, the date of the marathon was changed from January to December to help ensure better weather. In 2009, the Las Vegas Marathon was acquired by the Competitor Group, Inc. and renamed as the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon, as part of the company's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.
- Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay – Vegas is the end point for the annual Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay. This 120 mile long foot race is run in April of each year by law enforcement teams from around the world. The race starts in Baker, California and is run over two days. This is the largest law enforcement athletic event in the world.
- The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) had hosted the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in the Las Vegas metropolitan area from 2011 to 2013. The swim portion of the competition is held at Lake Las Vegas, and the bike and run portions are held in the Henderson, Nevada area. In 2014, the race was renamed the Ironman 70.3 Silverman as the championship race began the practice of changing to a new location each year going forward.
- The Lake Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada area was host to the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships on November 5, 2011 and organized by the International Triathlon Union. The venue featured the same course as the previously held Nevada Silverman Triathlon.
- Las Vegas is home to the Tennis Channel Open hosted at Darling Tennis Center. An international series tournament with a $1,000,000 prize fund which attracts stars such as Lleyton Hewitt, James Blake and Las Vegas native Andre Agassi.
- In 2006, the city hosted the USAFL National Championships, the biggest event in the United States for the sport of Australian rules football, with over 2,000 players from the US and Canada including local team Las Vegas Gamblers.
- The annual Evolution Championship Series fighting game event – which holds the largest fighting game tournaments in the world – has been hosted in Las Vegas since its rebranding in 2002.
- Las Vegas is home to the professional paintball team Las Vegas LTZ and amateur team Sin City Paintball.
- Las Vegas is home of the American Ninja Warrior national finals since season 4, which resembles the Mt. Midoriyama course from its Japanese TV series Sasuke. Here, 90 competitors from around the country compete in this city to earn the title of American Ninja Warrior champion and the cash prize of $500,000.
- eSports organization Major League Gaming hosted an MLG gaming event in Las Vegas from 2006-2008, featuring competitive Halo, Call of Duty, and other gaming tournaments. Las Vegas will be hosting an MLG event called MLG Vegas from December 16-18th. 2016.
- Cox Pavilion
- Mandalay Bay Events Center
- MGM Grand Garden Arena
- Orleans Arena
- Thomas & Mack Center
- T-Mobile Arena
- Primm Valley Golf Club
- Rio Secco Golf Club
- Shadow Creek Golf Club – Private
- TPC Las Vegas (formerly TPC at The Canyons)
- TPC at Summerlin – Private
- Wynn Golf and Country Club
- Rhodes Ranch
- Desert Rose Golf Course
- Las Vegas Golf Club
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