Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal polled a handful of Winter Meetings attendees about the viability of major league baseball in Sin City:
But even though Major League Baseball isn’t coming to the valley anytime soon, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be here. Boston Globe writer Nick Cafardo, who was in town this week covering baseball’s winter meetings at the Bellagio, is all for a franchise in Southern Nevada.
“I’ve always been shocked there isn’t a team here,” said Cafardo, who covers the Red Sox. “It’s a popular place for players. A lot of players live in this area or live in Arizona. I know it’s a fun place for them to be. I know there’s the issue of the gambling, but if you want to gamble, you can gamble anywhere in this day and age.
“There’s a lot of interest in baseball in this area, a lot of transplanted people from places where baseball’s important. Again, I’m just flabbergasted there isn’t a team here” . . .
. . . The Sporting News baseball writer Gerry Fraley: “This is my first time here. I’m a little taken aback. It looks like the economy is hurting here. I don’t know if a tourist-based town can support a baseball team because of the fluctuations of the economy.”
My long-held position on this is that the big leagues in Vegas is a dicey proposition even in the best of times for the city and the nation as a whole. Unlike football and boxing, baseball is not driven by big events. There are 10 times as many home games. Getting people to show up in numbers to 81 games is going to require attracting the locals who will come on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, not the folks who drive up from L.A. on the weekend. And remember, a healthy portion of the locals work nights in the gaming, restaurant, and entertainment industry. Who’s going to a midweek Vegas-Oakland game in April?
Even if you get past that, I think you have a problem with the casinos. No, not because baseball is historically wary of gambling. The presence of the Winter Meetings there — not to mention the common sight of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods ads in east coast stadiums — puts lie to that old concern. No, the bigger problem with the casinos is that they have no incentive whatsoever to play ball with baseball. Think about it: why would Mandalay Bay want to encourage its patrons to leave the gaming floor and go to a ballpark between, say, 6:30PM and 10:30PM each night? Hell, the reason they have cocktail waitresses and comped drinks is that they don’t even want you to get up to walk to a bar during those times.
Bringing major league professional sports to Las Vegas would, by definition, bring in competition for existing entertainment dollars, and I can’t see how roadblock after roadblock wouldn’t be thrown up by the gaming and hotel interests.
(special thanks to Keith Law for helping me figure out that “muera” is the opposite of “viva.” Keep your eye on that guy. I think he may just make it in this business)