There have been rumors circling for a month that the NBA is considering completing its season in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts noted in its recent earnings call that it had been in discussions with sports leagues about its venues being used for this purpose.
The games would have no fans. However, it would still be great for the city.
There will be entire hotels shuttered long after permission to reopen is given by Governor Sisolak. This creates a unique opportunity to keep pro sports organizations and media safe and quarantined.
It is no secret that there will be tens of thousands of empty hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip when resorts can reopen. There are 30 NBA teams with 15-player rosters and more coaches and other support staff. Between the teams, media, league officials and referees, this could fill 1,000 or more hotel rooms at Mandalay Bay.
Mandalay Bay is the preferred venue by MGM Resorts, according to the New York Times. That article also notes the company pitched other professional sports leagues, including the WNBA, which has a team based at Mandalay Bay. Staff would stay at Luxor, which connects to Mandalay Bay through a corridor and tram system. The New York Times reported that the convention center on the property could be converted into 24 basketball courts.
MGM Resorts noted that the first two resorts it will reopen are New York-New York and Bellagio. This leaves Mandalay Bay as a perfect candidate to host an NBA-only event under quarantine. The resort has ample convention space for teams to use for meetings. The food and beverage departments could easily handle catering to the players and staff, making it an all-inclusive resort.
The NBA would be able to negotiate a great rate for this event. It may only run in the low three figures per diem. However, the revenues MGM Resorts makes goes beyond this. Amenities could be used by players, including the casino.
There are intangible values not in that price. It is inevitable that Las Vegas will be deserted, even when the casinos may reopen. This will bring bad press to the city that has already received more than its fair share.
There is a tremendous pent-up demand for live sports. The NBA games would be associated with Las Vegas being reopen. Players and media will comment on their stay on the Las Vegas Strip. Constant pictures of the resorts lit up and alive again would be on millions of televisions.
The tourism industry will shed much of its workforce in 2020. This gives an opportunity to bring back hundreds of employees. Security, valet, hotel, maintenance, housekeeping, cooks, dealers, bartenders, servers and arena staff would all be needed to host this event. It may also make it so that there is enough demand for the hotel to stay open after the NBA teams leave after all the good press its brand would get.
More jobs would be created outside the hotel and venues. This includes drivers for players and inventory, as well as wholesalers and producers of goods working with the MGM Resorts.
Tax revenues fell substantially during the shutdown. An NBA season finishing in Las Vegas would help replace some of that. The league would add to the hotel and sales taxes, as well as some excise ones. The hiring of employees would create payroll taxes, and some of the revenues would go towards Nevada’s margin taxes. There may also be some gaming taxes. While the amount generated would be negligible in normal times, perhaps only a few million dollars, it means everything right now.
Las Vegas morale
Las Vegas unemployment is at a record level right now. Many residents feel hopeless. Some are considering leaving for good or already have. Pulling off an event that puts Las Vegas in a positive light can help the image of the town and give residents hope that the city is moving in the right direction.