“We’re Prepared To Spend About A Billion Dollars On Building The New Arena … We’ll Be NBA-Ready” | NBA Vegas Expansion On The Way?

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Development and investment company Oak View Group has acquired 25 acres of land near the Las Vegas Strip and announced plans on Wednesday for a new sports and entertainment complex, including: a hotel, casino, and an NBA ready-arena. Meaning the worst-kept secret in the world is out, the NBA will eventually expand to Vegas. But is it a good idea?

“The arena will be world class,” Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said on CNBC. “We’re prepared to spend about a billion dollars on building the new arena. It will be for music, it’ll be for sports, it’ll be for cultural activities. Should the NBA decide to come — and by the way there’s no certainty or no guarantees that the NBA is ever coming to Vegas, but should they come — we will certainly be NBA-ready and make sure that we hit all of their standards.”

NBA expansion has been talked about in the league offices for years, with Seattle and Las Vegas leading as cities to host new NBA franchises. Seattle was once home to the Sonics before they were taken to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. The city and area have a rich basketball tradition and many fans want the Sonics to return.

Now that online gambling is legal and the NBA has jumped into bed with the sportsbooks, Vegas is a logical city for an NBA team. No doubt commissioner Adam Silver has witnessed the success of the NHL’s expansion Vegas Golden Knights franchise.

“It’s on a list at the point that we do turn to expansion, which isn’t right now,” said Silver last October. “But at some point. No doubt Vegas will be on the list.”

Founded in 2017, the Knights have had immediate success. They play to a packed arena and have made the playoffs in every season since their inception, including a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season.

That’s a proof case that major sports can work in Vegas. It’s a huge tourist city and people that come in are always looking for events and things to do. Not to mention the NBA already has the annual Vegas Summer League there, so the synergies abound.

The other reason this will happen is the money. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the billionaire NBA governors have been crying the poverty blues over lost revenue.

Adding two expansion teams would bring in somewhere between $3 and $4 billion combined. The current governors get to divvy up that money. They’d be looking at $100 million to $130 million each. Not bad work if you can get it.

But expansion isn’t what the NBA needs right now. The ratings for regular season games have been declining for years. There are just too many games in an NBA regular season to capture sustained interest from the casual sports fan. If you add two more franchises that’s more regular season games.

Not to mention the product will get watered down.

The league has so many talented players right now and the concentration is good. Spreading that talent out to over two more franchises means we’ll have more bad teams. That’s not a recipe for renewed enthusiasm.

The NBA is still operating like this is the 1990s and all they have to worry about is the NFL and MLB. There are so many other options out there competing for mindshare. More is not the answer.

Nothing is set in stone yet and Oak View Group has yet to break ground. But that will happen next year, and once that ball gets rolling there will be nothing stopping the expansion express. Even though it’s not in the best interest of the game.