Will there be any ownership groups willing to buy Las Vegas an expansion NBA team?

Major League Soccer was ready to expand to Sacramento, but money has caused the ownership group in northern California to pull out. 

The Sacramento franchise is on an indefinite hold because the would-be majority owner was concerned with increasing costs and the lack of partners. ESPN reported that the cost of a stadium and infrastructure in Sacramento increased by $120 million. That coupled with a lack of funds coming from partners led to Sacramento falling out.

While Las Vegas could certainly benefit from Sacramento’s failings by adding its own MLS team, this is a curious case study for NBA expansion.

Adam Silver has acknowledged that expansion could be closer than expected and one of the reasons is the pandemic and the loss of revenue for the NBA.

If NBA owners are looking to recoup money they did not earn because of the pandemic, who exactly are they expecting to have plenty of money to spend on an expansion team? The pool of potential owners may be smaller than usual. 

MGM has long been assumed as a potential owner – or part owner – of an NBA team in Las Vegas. Their executives have been predicting the NBA coming to Vegas for years. 

But MGM laid off 18,000 employees in August of 2020 and another 1,100 in October. The last 12 months have not been good for the casino industry. 

Plus MGM sold the Las Vegas Aces to Mark Davis. The idea that the WNBA franchise was seen as a test run for MGM and Vegas’ ability to handle an NBA team might have been overstated. It still isn’t the best sign that MGM can jump right into sports ownership with the NBA – a league that might ask as much for $3 billion in an expansion fee. 

So is it safe to assume that MGM would be involved in bringing the NBA to Vegas?

All of this is speculation. Maybe MGM decides getting involved in an NBA franchise is worthwhile even while recovering from a pandemic. Maybe there is another ownership group ready to spend $3 billion. 

But ultimately it seems unrealistic to assume there will be plenty of groups willing to deal out the cash needed to buy an expansion team after a pandemic. 

For now, we can focus on stealing Sacramento’s spot in MLS. Or maybe we should just focus on if Lights FC exists, since the organization has all but vanished since the end of the 2020 season. 

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