It wasn’t supposed to be this way! Really. It’s the middle of May and according to all the sports prognosticators, the Vegas Golden Knights were supposed to be sitting in the field house, licking their wounds after an absolute dismal inaugural season. Not out chasing after the Stanley Cup.
This was supposed to be the quiet moments where MGM was going to be busy rounding up all their media people and letting the world know it was just a few short weeks before they open up another chapter in the history of professional sports in Las Vegas.
This was supposed to be when all eyes were on the inaugural game and the inaugural season for the WNBA Las Vegas Aces. The Las Vegas Aces will play their first home game on Sunday, May 27 at the Mandalay Events Center. Taking on the Seatle Storm.
On that date, the Las Vegas Golden Knights will have just wrapped up their series with the Winnipeg Jets and will either be back at their field office, gearing up for a history-making appearance in the Stanley Cup final or taking a much-deserved rest while contemplating the future of season two.
News Flash: For those who follow The Vegas Tourist for any length of time, you know my feelings on most things Vegas pro sports related. What you didn’t know is that I have a hidden love for the WNBA. It’s more of a love/hate relationship, but more love than hate. I was there at almost the beginning of the launch of the NBA’s ugly stepdaughter (not my words). I was one of those consulted with by the Minnesota Timberwolves as they reached out to the local business community for help in launching their WNBA franchise, the Minnesota Lynx.
Then watching them take everything we told them that would help create a successful team much like the Vegas Golden Knights are now and toss it into the proverbial trash can. Telling us in an off the cuff moment that the WNBA “is and always will be” the ugly stepdaughter and will never be more than a second-tier league to their more popular, powerful and profitable NBA league. Basically dooming the league to where it is now. A commodity instead of an asset.
And that’s a shame because the talent that is now available for a true women’s basketball league has never been greater.
When you watch a WNBA game, you are watching professionals with talent play for the love of the game, not for the love of the money (because there isn’t any).
Vegas Has The Talent
If there is one thing I can say about sports in Las Vegas, is that when you have a team here, the eyes of the world will be on you. That is why so many teams failed before. They did not have the resources off the field to fund the talent on the field. The Las Vegas Aces came out of the gates showing they have the talent on and off the field.
Their first pick was A’Ja Wilson. A perfect way to start building a winning team. According to Wikipedia: Wilson was the number 1 ESPN HoopGurlz Top 100 prospect in 2014. Wilson played for the South Carolina Gamecocks in college, and helped lead the Gamecocks to their first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in 2017, and won the NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player award. In 2018, she won a record 3rd straight SEC Player of the Year award, led South Carolina to a record 4th straight SEC Tournament Championship, became the all-time leading scorer in South Carolina women’s basketball history, and was a consensus first-team All-American for the third consecutive season. Wilson swept all National Player of the Year awards (Wade, AP, Honda, USBWA, Wooden, and Naismith) as the best player in Women’s College basketball for 2018.
Although this team came from somewhere else, the MGM team behind them has rebuilt the team into a brand new Vegas team designed to win fans and to win games!
Yes, I voluntarily said all that!! I think this is going to be a fun team to watch. (shocker, I know)
Vegas Marketing, Vegas Exposure
So maybe now having the, dare I say it, powerful and mighty MGM owning a WNBA team may make the NBA reexamine their desires for the WNBA. Afterall, the marketing power behind the MGM brand as well as the brand itself extends all over the world. Although the MGM sportsbooks in Nevada will not be able to take bets on the Aces, you can bet that MGM will want to let the world know that they at least own a WNBA team. Plus the team itself may not be on Las Vegas tote boards, the other WNBA teams should see the spotlight on them a little brighter int he sportsbooks. As with the NHL and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, being in Las Vegas, the international market is getting exposed more to the American sports as the MGM brand is worldwide and those newly minted tourists are flocking here to see what it’s all about.
The Golden Knights are not owned in any way by MGM but they do play their home games in MGM’s T-Mobile arena and it is surrounded by MGM properties. So they do get to ride on the power of the MGM international marketing bandwagon! This type of exposure can only help the team and the league.
The WNBA Las Vegas Aces:
1997 – Started as one of the original 8 WNBA teams. Utah Stars
2003 – The Starzz relocated to San Antonio. San Antonio Silver Stars
2018: Relocated to Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Stars