The tragic events of Oct. 1 cast a dark shadow over a city known for its bright lights and glamour.
But what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas as people worldwide showed their support for the victims, families and first responders to the shooting that killed 58 and injured nearly 550 others.
Part of that support has come from people in pro sports, who en masse long considered Las Vegas to be a pariah due to its gambling and association with crime but who now see it as a sports Mecca.
In the weeks since the shooting two major sports-related events happened in Vegas.
Minor League Baseball’s AAA Las Vegas 51s, owned by the Howard Hughes Corp. and part of the city since 1983 (and, yes, named after nearby Area 51 of UFO fame), were given permission to build a $150 million stadium, funded in part by a 20-year, $80 million naming-rights agreement with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Las Vegas Ballpark, expected to open for the 2019 season, will be located next to City National Arena, the training facility for the NHL’ s Vegas Golden Knights in downtown Summerlin, a 1.8-million-square-foot retail and office complex.
That news was followed by the acquisition of the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars by MGM Resorts International, which is moving the team to Vegas for the 2018 season. The team will play in the 12,000-seat sports and entertainment complex Mandalay Bay Events Center, in the the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (which, unfortunately, was the site from which the Vegas shooter targeted his victims).
The arrival of the WNBA adds to a growing pro sports scene in Vegas.
The aforementioned Golden Knights began play this season in 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, which also is the site of numerous events from the Las Vegas-based UFC.
T-Mobile Arena will also host the Professional Bull Riders 2017 World Finals (Nov. 1-5).
The NFL’s Raiders are relocating to Vegas from Oakland, either for the 2019 or 2020 season, where they will play in a $2 billion, 65,000-seat stadium being built on the southern end of the Vegas Strip.
It will also host University of Las Vegas football games and other sports and entertainment events.
Supporters of the relocation optimistically estimate it could bring 451,000 new visitors to Las Vegas and add 19,000 jobs and $620 million in economic impact.
The NBA has had an on-going relationship with the city, including playing the 2007 All-Star Game, pre-season games and the Las Vegas Summer League, which dates back to 2004.
In addition, the USA Basketball Men’s and Women’s Team have trained and played exhibition games in Las Vegas including preparations for several Summer Olympics.
The Golden Knights dealt with the situation head on in the team’s first regular season NHL game, less than two weeks after the shooting, by replacing all ads on dasher boards along the ice with #VegasStrong, having first responders escort players onto the ice and holding a 58-second moment of silence, during which the names of the 58 victims were shown on the ice.
While none of this will completely repair the devastation of Oct. 1, it is aiding in the healing process.
“We are thrilled to bring the first major professional basketball team to Las Vegas,” Lisa Borders, WNBA president, said when the Stars sale and relocation was unveiled. “This city and MGM Resorts are synonymous with world-class entertainment. With its culture of diversity and inclusion, MGM Resorts is an ideal fit for the WNBA.”