With Las Vegas primed to receive its first major sports franchise, commissioner Rob Manfred says Major League Baseball will not rule out an entry in the city.
Major sports in Las Vegas are certainly on the upswing. The NHL is formally voting today to place a team in the city, and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is openly a discussing a move there for his franchise. (You can read more about both stories on our sister sites, Arena Digest and Football Stadium Digest.)
The question of whether MLB would jump into the fray was posed to Manfred during an appearance on the YES Network’s The Michael Kay Show on Tuesday. In answering the question, Manfred dispelled the notion that MLB would be averse to the market because of its presence of casinos, labeling it as “a viable alternative.”
Las Vegas is a viable option for an MLB team.https://t.co/VRuQSoFUEX
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 21, 2016
For starters, Manfred is certainly correct in noting that casinos are not a trait that is limited to Las Vegas. Gambling continues to expand in many states, which has led to an influx of casinos not only opening within MLB cities, but close to the ballparks themselves. (Baltimore and Detroit come to mind as examples.)
While gambling may not disqualify Las Vegas, there are other factors that could at the very least slow down the development of a team setting up shop in the city. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s are pursuing new ballparks, but all indications thus far point to them working towards a solution within their current markets for the time being.
Beyond that, expansion continues to be discussed, with Manfred saying as recently as April that MLB is open to jumping the number of teams in the league to 32. Should it enter that mix, Las Vegas would seemingly face plenty of competition from cities such as Montreal, San Antonio, and others. Additional factors would be in play as well, including Las Vegas’ ability to pull together an ownership group, and a new ballpark would undoubtedly have to be on the table.
The good news for Las Vegas in this equation is that MLB is ultimately open to the market, and willing to consider it as an option down the road. Manfred will have the benefit of time on his side, and could measure the viability of one or two major sports franchises in Las Vegas before making a move.
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