Is Las Vegas a baseball city? One version of the question was settled years ago, when the Native Sons Bryce Harper And Chris Bryant He won back-to-back NL MVP awards in 2015 and 2016. Along with slugger Joey Gallo And a variety of other major leagues, Harper and Bryant came to scouting just as the growing Southern Nevada region began to attract more and more interest from the sports and entertainment community, including MLB, which hosted its annual winter meetings there in December 2018.
A different version of this question is on the table now, eg Oakland Athletics He attempted to install a ballpark site and (apparently more importantly for ownership) public funding to import an MLB team and give the city a foothold in three of the four major American men’s sports leagues.
After years of trying to negotiate a football stadium project that would have required huge public infrastructure spending in Auckland, And As they search for a deal local officials can afford. Whether the team will be able to secure favorable terms for team owner John Fisher W but the intention to move to Las Vegas is clear.
And if the A’s don’t, the city ranks among the top contenders for a future expansion franchise.
“I definitely think it’s a good place,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “I mean, if A hadn’t gone there, I think it would probably be at the top of the list.”
Growing up, Bryant and his fellow Vegas natives benefited from the same favorable climates that help California, Florida, and Arizona produce strong crops of baseball prospects.
“It’s hot in the summer, but mostly, you can play baseball year-round,” Bryant said. “And that gave us more opportunity to play baseball than people on the East Coast, in the Midwest. So that was good for us.”
It is clear that the American sports industry builds on the Las Vegas area – which is home to about 2.3 million people and growing – and continues to attract people and sports fans. The A’s will be the third team to debut in Vegas since 2017, joining the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Raiders, baseball’s former team at Oakland Stadium.
How will Las Vegas adjust its sports interests?
But just as the local population is not equal to the size of the media market, player production and the production of critical mass for a successful fan base are not driven by the same forces. Take a look at the struggles of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays trying to make it work in Florida, another bastion of baseball talent.
Or take Bryson Stott’s word. The Philadelphia Phillies’ second-year captain hails from Las Vegas, and with his hometown devoid of professional sports teams, he quickly made the decision to root for Cleveland teams based on his first minor league team.
“I have an older brother who said if you like a bunch of random bands, you’re a wagon [fan]Stott said. “So, yeah, like all of them—the Cavs, the Browns. I think I’m more of an Eagles fan now than a Browns fan, but I’m still a Browns fan. A huge Ohio State fan.”
Stott said this was a common practice among his friends and family. And he’s not quite so sure that adults who are already committed to their fandom affiliations will drop it to their roots for an A.
“You can pick a genre. And once you get into your 20s and 30s, you’re not going to switch just because you can go into somebody’s game now,” he said. “So I mean, personally I think it will be a generation or two before it becomes like a fandom.”
Stott also distinguished between the expansion franchise born in Vegas, the Golden Knights, and the team that moved to town, The Raiders.
“I personally don’t see it going to be as good as everyone thinks it is,” he said of the A’s potential transfer. “Just living there and kind of seeing the Raiders—I mean, the Raiders, it’s like 70% of the A’s away fans.”
Citing a phenomenon seen in Las Vegas and with recently relocated Los Angeles NFL teams, Stott saw a slow turnout from local fans even as stadiums filled with discordant colors.
Despite this, the NFL has a very different operating model than baseball. The business is more centralized, both in terms of revenue and in terms of games. Football matches are played once a week, always over or near the weekend, and in the fall or winter. For the Raiders, this means that the allure of Las Vegas can act as a buffer to attract opportunistic visiting fans while building local relationships.
For the A’s — who will be playing all week, in the desert, in the summer and maybe even at a remote Triple-A park at first — Vegas won’t have the same advantage.
A tough role model to follow: the NHL’s Golden Knights
If they move to Las Vegas, they’ll need to do more to catch the attention of locals, something hockey’s Golden Knights have done in a big way since their debut in 2017.
“I’ve been to a couple of Knights games, and they’re really fun,” Bryant said. “They do a good job. They really embrace the whole Vegas show and make it a fun atmosphere.”
Stott said the Golden Knights took advantage of a population that largely didn’t have strong opinions about hockey teams. They also met the moment when a mass shooter killed 60 and wounded hundreds at a local music festival less than two weeks before their opening game. The team dedicated pre-game festivities to the victims and survivors and provided an outlet for a grieving city wanting community. Stott said the Knights showed “that a professional sports team really cares.”
“I think they kind of rallied around the city,” he said, “and the city rallied around them.” “They played really well. That helps too.”
Really, really good. The Golden Knights took full advantage of their expansion draft and fired up the league, making it to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season – another boost the beleaguered players are unlikely to get.
Bryant was more optimistic than Stott about the A’s chances in Las Vegas, saying his hometown was “turning into a good sports city”.
“You feel for the fans in Oakland who lost the Raiders and now the A’s,” he said, “but I think it’s a good opportunity for Vegas in general.”
Other MLB players with Las Vegas roots have shown a similar interest in the city’s growth. Seattle Mariners closer Paul Sowold . Harper, for the record, declined to comment when asked about the A’s and Las Vegas.
These days, he and Stott play in a city that has no questions to answer about its dedication to its sports teams. But no city gets there overnight.
“I always think it’s funny coming back to Philly every year because it’s like, the three-year-olds who can barely speak say ‘Sixers’ or something,” Stott said. “And I never really got that, being from Vegas. I think that’s really cool, and I think Vegas will be like that in the end.”