August 20, 2010
From the files of "Hey, whatever you say, guy!" comes news that Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman is again talking about bringing a MLB team to Sin City, as reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Actually, Goodman is talking more about building a 45,000-seat domed stadium that would lure a team to the desert.
But he's borrowing the age-old tactic of "if we build it, they will come — and then play plenty of slot machines afterward" to convince taxpayers of his plan.
"I have been advised we are designated an American League city," he said [at his weekly press conference on Thursday].
I have no idea what "designated an AL city" means and Goodman did not elaborate. It's hard to believe that Bud Selig has already assigned leagues to potential relocation sites like Las Vegas, Portland or northern New Jersey ... although it'd make sense if we're eventually talking about getting the American League to 16 teams through expansion.
But Las Vegas as a future denizen of the AL West? Well, point me toward the nearest betting window because I'm willing to wager we'd see the Yankees contracted before we see the Las Vegas 51s supplanted as the main baseball show in town.
It's not that I don't admire Goodman for trying. He clearly wants his legacy to include bringing a professional sports team to Las Vegas and with his term limit coming up, the window of his chance to succeed is rapidly closing. If he can at least get the ball rolling on this stadium project, he'll still be able to claim part of the glory and responsibility.
Goodman is barking around the wrong league, though, because baseball and its 81 dates a year would never work in Las Vegas' struggling economy of transplants who head west with dreams and already-established team allegiances. We'd be looking at D'Backs North.
Ah, but you say that Vegas and its millions of visitors a year would love to go out to a baseball game while in town? I'll respond by saying this: I love visiting ballparks and would probably make an effort to go see one in downtown Baghdad if one were there.
But going to see one in options-aplenty Las Vegas would probably be a one-time deal. With the blackjack tables singing their siren songs, I might not even stay for the full nine innings.
I can see the argument that plenty of opposing fans would fly in for three-game series and make it part of their vacation. And that might work with the teams that would visit once per year or once every few seasons for interdivisional or interleague play.
But what about for the other AL West teams that come three times a year and make up a bulk of the schedule? Wouldn't that quickly become old hat for them? I think it would.
If Goodman is so intent on landing pro sports, I think the way to go is to try and keep convincing the NFL that playing in Vegas no longer brings a huge stigma. He could also pursue the idea I once heard of building a football stadium that would only host, say, eight Sunday or Monday Night Football games a year and the occasional Super Bowl. That way, road-tripping fans would come in on Friday or Saturday and spend their money for two or three days before seeing their teams play each other. There would also be a lot of hurdles to clear in this scenario — the biggest being the loss of a home game to some teams — but the games would be big events in a big-event town. It'd be huge.
But with its reliance on a strong base of season ticket holders and local TV money, baseball just wouldn't have the same chance to succeed. Goodman may have a vision of diamonds, but it isn't one that Major League Baseball could ever roll the dice on.
Big BLS H/N: BBTF