Before the Supreme Court put the question of legal sports betting into the hands of each state, Las Vegas was a bit taboo for anything outside of boxing or mixed martial arts. Vegas has a well-earned reputation as a city where everything can go off the rails. It’s a land of temptation and major sports leagues feared that.
Imagine the “Last Dance” episode where Michael Jordan played an NBA Finals in Sin City were that something that could have happened. When Vegas held a unique place as a city full of excess that had legal sports betting, the major sports stayed as far away as they could.
Now, when teams have direct deals with sports betting companies (something that not allowed in any major league just a few years ago), Las Vegas has lost some of its danger. Sure, players could drink too much and end up getting arrested with a hooker, a drug dealer, or a drug dealing hooker, but that can sort of happen in many states.
Now, while Las Vegas does excess better than any other city, it’s not unique in that sense. Taking that away has left Las Vegas as a major destination for sports. The Oakland Raiders sell out every game while filling hotels across the Strip. Every NFL weekend has become a major event bringing millions to Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Free Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get Free Report, Wynn Resorts (WYNN) – Get Free Report, and the other Strip players.
The NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights aren’t quite as big, but they’re a hot ticket packing the MGM and Caesars properties near T-Mobile Arena. Las Vegas has also hosted the NFL Draft, NBA Summer League, and a Formula 1 race will be a major event next year. And, of course, there’s a Super Bowl coming and the looming possibility of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s moving to the city along with vague plans for the NBA to put a team on the Strip.
Now, however, Las Vegas has landed another major sporting event that once would have been unthinkable.
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Las Vegas Lands the NCAA Final 4
While pro sports leagues had previously avoided Las Vegas, the NCAA had played early round “March Madness” games in the city. There was a period when the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) was a championship contender and the college ruling body has not avoided Sin City, but it has kept the Final Four away from one of the cities best set up to host it.
That’s going to change in 2028 when Allegiant Stadium, where the Las Vegas Raiders play, will host the Final Four with the semifinals on April 1 and the championship game being held on April 3.
“We are excited to bring the NCAA’s premier championship to Las Vegas, a city that for a number of years has hosted numerous championships from several member conferences,” said Chris Reynolds, chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.
The move of putting the FInal Four in Las Vegas essentially removes any lingering doubts about the city as the premier sports destination in the world.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of hosting the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium,” said UNLV Director of Athletics Erick Harper. “Our city has been a hub for basketball on all levels for many years and now to welcome one of the premier events in all of sports is a culmination of how Las Vegas has truly become the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World.”
Las Vegas Owns the Sports World
No city has the density of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment that the Las Vegas Strip offers. The entire Strip is 4.2 miles long and much of it is walkable. By 2028, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will be fully operational, shuttling people all around the city via underground tunnels using driverless Teslas.
Las Vegas has the facilities for major events, where selling tickets is not in question. Its biggest draw, however, may be the constant influx of tourists. The Oakland A’s won’t have to be good if they play in Las Vegas and they will still likely sell out most games. An NBA team on the Strip would likely even be a bigger draw.
Holding events or operating a team in Las Vegas comes with major advantages. Caesars, MGM, and Wynn don’t have to ramp up to host major events, they simply need to raise prices. Yes, the F1 race requires some temporary seating and the NFL Draft had a one-time-use setup, but those are minor issues compared to what the average city needs to do to make a Final Four or other similar scale event viable.