Darron Cummings/ AP In this July 12, 2017, file photo, San Antonio Stars’ Kayla McBride chuckles with head coach Vickie Johnson throughout the second half of a WNBA basketball video game against the Indiana Fever in Indianapolis.
Released Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017|10:40 a.m.
Updated 10 hours, 35 minutes ago
New York City– Las Vegas is getting a WNBA franchise.
The San Antonio Stars are relocating to the betting mecca after being purchased by MGM Resorts International, the league stated Tuesday.
“Las Vegas has actually been on our radar screen for a long time,” WNBA President Lisa Borders stated in a phone interview. “We’ve had discussions with the MGM household, executive group. They are bringing live sports to Las Vegas.”
The group will join the NHL as a 2nd professional team in Las Vegas– with the NFL quickly to follow. The Stars start play next season with house video games at the Mandalay Bay Occasions Center. Expense Laimbeer will be the group’s president of basketball operations and coach.
“He’ll run the basketball side of business,” Borders said. “The MGM group and the league will work to staff business side. The folks that will run business, sales, social, digital, all the functions to run business.”
The move has remained in the works since destiny ownership group told the league they had an interest in offering the group. Borders stated she approached MGM about purchasing the group.
“I’ve been dealing with this for so long, it’s been a few months for sure,” Borders stated. “(San Antonio) has actually run the group for 15 years and it’s their business choice. Our obligation is that our groups are all doing well. We have a responsibility to the players and fans that the league is healthy, finding a great spot for that group to land. That’s what we have actually done in Las Vegas.”
MGM will not be the first business with casino holdings to own a WNBA team. The Mohegan Sun owns the team in Connecticut.
This will be the first expert basketball group in Las Vegas, which has actually become a desired target for sports franchises.
“In the last few years, we have actually seen Southern Nevada rapidly progress into a significant sports location,” stated Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “This latest team moving positions Las Vegas to draw in yet another visitor market and declares that we are not simply the home entertainment, but also the sports, capital of the world.”
The growth Vegas Golden Knights began their first NHL season this month. In March, the NFL formally authorized the Oakland Raiders’ moving to Las Vegas by the 2020 season to inhabit a proposed brand-new arena on the Las Vegas Strip, although the deal wasn’t authorized till gambling establishment mogul Sheldon Adelson took out of the financing plan.
The Golden Knights play at MGM’s T-Mobile Arena, however the casino doesn’t own the team.
“This is the first professional sports team that MGM resorts owns and it’s a great positioning frankly with the DNA of our business,” stated Lilian Tomovich, MGM’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer.
Neither Borders nor Tomovich wanted to state if bringing a females’s basketball group to Las Vegas was the prelude to an NBA franchise moving there.
“You understand you’ll need to ask Adam (Silver) about that,” Borders stated. “The WNBA belongs to the NBA business and portfolio.”
This is the second move for the franchise. It came to San Antonio from Utah in 2003. Led by Becky Hammon, destiny reached the WNBA Finals in 2008. The group has actually ended up with the league’s worst record each of the past three seasons. San Antonio has a gifted young nucleus with Kayla McBride, Moriah Jefferson and Kelsey Plum.
The team likewise has the leading possibility to obtain the No. 1 pick in next year’s WNBA draft.
Plum was thrilled for the move to Las Vegas, which is closer to Southern California, where she grew up.
“My family and friends can get to more video games,” Plum said in a phone interview on Sunday. “Getting to Texas wasn’t the easiest thing for them. Now it’s a brief flight or drive for them to come watch.”