By Steven Keys

Seems just a matter of time before we hear the news that an NHL or NBA investment group has reached agreement with the Commissioner, player’s union and City officials to locate the first major professional sports franchise in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada.

If and when that notable event happens it will mark a watershed moment in American spectator sport.

..........VegasVic.5.1.10.wc.J.Gauder.thmb

Not the memorable kind the likes of Jackie Robinson breaking color barrier (47), passage of Title IX legislation or the first broadly administered blood draws taken in the never-ending, uphill fight against PEDs (MLB ‘13).

No, this momentous occurrence will be of the disconcerting variety.

Locating such a franchise in Las Vegas, gambling Mecca of the Milky Way, could be the worst decision ever made in the history of sport planning.

Why? Three reasons to seriously ponder:

1) Early experiment rolled but came up craps

The first run at a semi-major sport endeavor in Las Vegas was the men’s college basketball team at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, the Runnin’ Rebels, coached by Jerry Tarkanian (d.2015). It was a top-tier program for much of the 80s and 90s but the results were mixed.

.........UNLV.T&M.Ctr.10.19.11.G.Skidmore.thmb

Oh, the Rebels won plenty of games, produced some All-Americans and took a national men’s NCAA title in 1990. But the closing act on that show ended with photo of some of Tark’s players from the title team taking a bath (hot-tub break) with a known game-fixer.

So much for team spirit.

2) Standard & Symbolism

Consumers of sport, the people of Las Vegas, they are as good & gracious, greedy & gaudy as people in every city & hamlet around the globe. They’re not the issue.

It’s the serious symbolism that a major pro sport in Nevada conveys to ‘entrepreneurs’ who’d decide they’re tired of “anarchy (Miller‘s Crossing (’90)),” i.e., gambling on the up & up, and seek a sure thing, a “fix (“If you can‘t count on a fix, what can you count on (“Caspar”)?”). It’s a message of relaxed standard at a time when they seem to be crumbling all around.

.........Paulie.T.Sirico.4.1.10.CJCS.wc.M.Mullen.thmb

Locating a major pro franchise in Vegas is an engraved invitation to trouble. And the Feds don’t have enough on their hands, eh, boys?

Just imagine guys like “Paulie Gualtieri (T.Sirico / The Sopranos)” saying something like this down at the “Bada Bing:”

Paulie: ‘Hey, did ya’ hear, theys gonna’ finally do it, put a pro team in Vegas! Imagine that?
Patsy Parisi (D.Grimaldi): Yeah.
Paulie: Never thought I’d live to see the day. Christ is King!
Patsy: Neither did I (chuckle).
Paulie: Hey, watch yourself, tough guy.
Patsy: Lighten up. It’s good news.
Paulie: Say, we know anybody in that operation?’

Yeah, just imagine, Mr. Commissioner.

Rather than moving closer to gambling interests or giving that impression, professional sports should be doing everything they can to keep their enterprises a good, safe distance away from gaming activities (miles), especially with integrity so scarce a commodity these days (See; PEDs, wet-deliveries (MLB), ball-flation (NFL), fantasy shenanigans (Jones-Drew (Jags‘10))?).

........Landis.wc.underwood.MilwJourl.11.15.20.CHI.thb

The top dog in America’s sporting show, the NFL, seems of the later approach while new leader of #2 MLB in Rob Manfred is a bit of an unknown at this point, though, red-flagging as a cooperative Commissioner with a lifting of the Pete Rose lifetime ban looming.

If or when the fixing begins, we, the public, will likely never know about it. Too much trouble. ‘What we don’t know won’t hurt us’ may be the boardroom line. The monopoly ‘powers that be’ will keep the lid on so tight you’d need a jackhammer to pry it off.

No jackhammers today. There never were many (Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Woodward & Bernstein, Bart Giamatti, Lane & Garrison, Oliver Stone).

3) Like a bump on the head

Staying in the “Bing” vernacular, the NHL and NBA need more teams in their fraternities like they need a bump on their figurative, collective heads.

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If anything, Gary Bettman and Adam Silver should be selling retraction in their respective, oversold operations, as opposed to the ill-conceived belief in an expanding universe of franchise ownerships. The quality of competition.

Glendale’s recent reject of funding for a new Coyotes’ arena may press the point, though, Portland is being floated as a top spot for a franchise shift.

.......Silver.11.21.14.K.Allison.wc.thmb

And then, another hockey club out in the bone-dry West? That may be pushin’ it, fellas.

Of course, that obvious contradiction hasn’t stopped their brethren in the golf world from building more & more water-guzzling, herbicide oozing operations.

Sure, a franchise in Las Vegas will make money for a handful of manicured mitts. They wouldn’t undertake if they weren’t guaranteed at least double back on their investment ($1.5B?). But for the mass majority of fandom it’d be pure dilution.

.......sunset.wc.8.13.12.J.Eastland.HighdesertCA

So there you have it, the most compelling reasons why locating a major sports franchise in Las Vegas would be a bad move.

But it‘s realization seems to be in the wind. If a Nevada franchise does come to be, the new team’s tag & tint will quickly become topic of much talk around town. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?

......dice.N.Morberg.wc.cca.2.22.09

My personal preference, whether an NBA or NHL club, would be a sundown theme. Day’s end in the wide-open West can be a sight to behold. The name then: Sunsets, with sun-burst design and hues of orange, yellow, pink and red. That’s the artistic take.

But a more typical tack would be a name like Rollers with dice in the design. Gold, silver, green are obvious color choices but might work with the right detailing. A gaming table combo of green, red, black & white? There are possibilities.

......macroeconomc.lamcasinoroyal.wc.2.5.11.thb

Steven Keys
Macro Sport
Photo credits: Las.Vegas, 4.19.05, wc, D.Vasquez; Vegas.Vic, wc.cca, 5.1.10, J.Gauder; T&M.Ctr, UNLV, wc, 10.19.11, G.Skidmore; T.Sirico (“Paulie“), wc, 4.1.10, CJCS, M,Mullen; Kenesaw Mountain Landis, wc, underwood, Milwaukee-Journal, CHI, 11.15.20; Gary Bettman, wc, 6.14.07, captcanuk; A.Silver, wc, 11.21.14, K.Allison; sunset, 8.13.12, J.Eastland, wc, high.desert, CA; dice, M.Morberg, 2.22.09, wc; macroeconomo, wc, lamcasinoroyal, 2011.
Posted: 6.14.15 @ 11:50pm EST

Filed under: NBA, NHL

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. Dana Lane

    Humorous that your first example is backed by an incident that happened almost 25 years ago. Not one point shaving scandal has happened in the state of Nevada but yet continues to be talked about as the countries problematic area as gambling scandals break out across the country. So tell me, where’s the real problem. Not in Vegas.

     
    • Steven Keys

      Who wrote “point shaving?” ‘But where there’s smoke there may be fire’ and I wouldn’t turn away like there ain’t. Unsafe.

      Maybe there is no “real problem” today in NV on “shaving” or fixing. I won’t debate that claim, I tend to believe it (no fixing). But there are currently no major pro teams located in Las Vegas. My point, locate one there and it could change, as you might term, that pristine (?) state of affairs. Who needs that kind of trouble if even just the appearance? Not the NBA nor the NHL.

      Thanks for reading and the comment.

       

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