How Las Vegas developed into a must-visit sports city

Known for its gambling, shopping, and nightlife, Las Vegas is an internationally acclaimed city that is a popular bachelor party or weekend-getaway hotspot. The city has boosted its reputation in another way in the last five years: becoming a legitimate sports town.

Sin City has emerged as a sports destination after quietly acquiring three major teams. In 2017, the Golden Knights were born via NHL expansion. The team went on to have the best debut season of any expansion team in North American sports history, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Washington Capitals in 5 games. This did wonders for hockey fandom in the city, which benefitted from the team being competitive right away. Fans of the Vancouver Grizzlies know what losing can do to a new franchise.

The next team that Las Vegas acquired was via relocation, after acquiring the NFL’s Raiders in 2020. This is the fourth move for the Raiders, after starting in Oakland, moving to Los Angeles, moving back to Oakland, and now heading to Nevada. This is the biggest acquisition for the city, as NFL TV deals and sponsorships will pump even more money into the city. Unlike the Golden Knights, the Raiders are not a good team. It may take some years before they are competitive enough to develop a devoted fan base.

Finally, the most recent development happened in the last few weeks: The MLB’s Oakland A’s are moving to Las Vegas. A new stadium is also in the works, one that will easily be an improvement on the Coliseum where the A’s currently play. The stadium is tentatively scheduled to be completed in 2027, with an official move likely for 2028. The A’s are the second team that Las Vegas has now taken from Oakland, which is unfortunate for fans in the bay area.

Sports betting has continued to take off in recent years, with Las Vegas at the center of it all. It seems like this kind of came out of nowhere, with the city set to go from zero to three major sports teams in a ten year span. I can’t say its overly surprising, with Las Vegas currently the 23rd most populated city in the United States. More importantly, the city comes in as the 6th most visited US city, meaning that tourists will have even more to do when visiting.

I’ve never been that into gambling, so I haven’t necessarily felt the need to visit Las Vegas before. Other than the warm weather and cool surrounding landscapes, I don’t know if I ever would have made a point to go to the city. However, now that there’s going to be three major sports teams in the city, it seems likely that I’ll go at some point in the next few years.

I wonder if we’ll see any other teams moving to Las Vegas in the next few years. If I’m a fan of a struggling NBA franchise, I’d be sweating right now.

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