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Las Vegas Bidding For Pro Franchise
It now appears that the front-runners for the relocation of the
Montreal Expos are northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., with Las
Vegas being relegated to also-ran status.
Las Vegas has been considered a longshot all during the bidding
process, which has been going on for two years, since the other 29 Major
League Baseball owners bought the franchise and the league has been
debating what to do with it. But even though its bid has come up short,
Sin City is not a loser in this, far from it.
There have been a lot of jokes about Las Vegas’s pursuit of the
Montreal Expos. They usually lead to a punchline such as ". . . and Pete
Rose is going to be the manager." Or the joke teller will put a spin on
it like, "Bud Selig doesn’t mind moving the Expos to Las Vegas, as long
as Pete Rose isn’t the manager."
But a funny thing happened on the way to the bargaining table. Last
Wednesday, the investment group that is trying to bring a major sports
team to Las Vegas made its final pitch to MLB’s relocation committee and
they weren’t laughed out of the room. That was a huge victory to not be
dismissed out of hand.
The fact Las Vegas is being taken more seriously is due to many
factors, not the least of which is the city’s growing population, which
is up to 1.6 million residents (ranking No. 34 nationally) and an
estimated 7,000 moving here every month, plus more than 30 million
visitors a year. Another major factor is the expansion of gambling from
coast to coast so that the public isn’t as shocked to have a casino in
their own back yard, or near a ballpark.
The biggest obstacle remains the sports leagues, which are still
leery of being associated with gambling, but that fear appears to be
subsiding, bolstered by Nevada’s insistence that legal sports betting
helps act as a watchdog for point-shaving scandals. Street and Smith’s
sportsbusinessjournal.com polled "400 professional and college
senior-level sports industry executives" and found that in response to
the question "Would the elimination of legalized sports betting have a
positive impact or negative impact on the sports business?" 68 percent
said negative impact while only 6 percent chose positive impact. No
impact came in at 26 percent.
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2004 Online Casino News Archive