A Look at Vegas’ Most Important Major Sporting Leagues

A Look at Vegas’ Most Important Major Sporting Leagues
Las Vegas Raiders – Photo credit: Ron Schwane / Associated Press

Las Vegas is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, with people from every corner of the globe visiting the city to experience the most glamorous casinos and nightclubs on earth. 

But when it comes to hosting major professional sporting teams, Vegas has historically trailed a bit behind its neighbors, California, and Arizona. Sports fans are no strangers to the city, due to the abundant number of sportsbook sites and the ability to place wagers legally and comfortably. Yet even with this easy access to betting, a lack of important home teams to cheer on has affected Vegas’ sports culture for decades. 

However, huge changes have come in recent years and with the entrance of the Raiders and NHL’s Aces, Las Vegas is now becoming a central hub for major professional sports and their athletes. Let’s take a look at the organizations and leagues that have finally put the city on the map. 

Las Vegas Raiders 

Originally based in California, NFL’s Raiders moved to Sin City just this year after more than two decades in the city of Oakland. The transition happened because of stadium issues at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum and Vegas offering the team more public funding. Vegas locals were ecstatic upon hearing the news as the city has never boasted widely successful organizations.

Of course, there were the Las Vegas Cowboys in 1968, and the Las Vegas Posse in 1994, but no major football team has brought extensive glory to the world’s entertainment capital. Nowadays, with the entrance of the Raiders as well as the expansion of legal Las Vegas betting sites accepting wagers (currently 13 according to OLBG.com) at any time and place in the state, the city is already becoming an important site for American football fans and culture.

There are over 100 sportsbooks in Nevada, with the most famous operating out of Las Vegas – Photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash 

Vegas Golden Knights

The first professional team to come to Las Vegas, the Golden Knights played their first season with the NHL in 2017-18. While it may be ironic for an ice sport to make its home in the middle of America’s desert lands, the Knights have seen huge successes in their short time on the scene. 

The team managed to compete in one of professional hockey’s greatest competitions, the Stanley Cup Finals, within their first year and hold the record for most postseason wins in a rookie playoff run with 13. 

Besides these on-the-ice achievements, the Golden Knights have also boosted the city’s economy by bringing even more attention to the strip and selling 12,500 of their first-season tickets. One thing is for certain: the team was the first of its kind to jumpstart sports enthusiasm and excitement since before the 90s and fan engagement is only expected to rise. 

Las Vegas Aces

Although Las Vegas has hosted many important basketball events over the years like the NBA Summer League and the NCAA’s Men’s Regional tournaments, the city did not have a professional basketball organization representing them until 2018 with the entrance of WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. 

In the same way that the Raiders relocated to Vegas, the Aces made their home in several other states before landing in Sin City.  Previously known as the Utah Starzz in Salt Lake City and the Silver Stars in San Antonio, the Aces have since won Conference Semi-Finals in both 2019 and 2020 but choked this year by going 0-3 against Seattle in the WNBA Championship

However, the woman’s team is still impressive with 2 Conference Championships and some of the best players in the league like power forward Sofia Young and all-star point guard Becky Hammon. 

Just this summer, Jim Murren, former CEO of MGM Resorts International, further excited locals by announcing that the city will most likely get an NBA team within the next few years. With the entrance of three major sports teams in less than 4 years and more to come, who knows what else is in store for the growing sports culture of Sin City.