Thursday, August 23, 2007

NBA to Vegas? Fat Chance

AEG and Harrah's Entertainment are looking to partner and build a multi-million dollar sports entertainment arena, set to open in Vegas by 2010. The catch is, they don't have a commitment from an NBA or NHL team to put a team there.


" LAS VEGAS -- Would AEG and Harrah's Entertainment form a partnership for a privately financed $500-million arena project set to open here in 2010 without a commitment from the NBA or NHL?

Yes . . . and no.

Turns out, it depends on how you want to define commitment.

It's significantly more complicated than the answers given by Harrah's Chairman Gary Loveman and AEG Chairman Tim Leiweke at a news conference Wednesday to announce the alliance to build the 20,000-seat, state-of-the-art facility, which will be on about 10 acres of land one block east of the Strip, behind Harrah's Bally's and Paris resorts.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for 2008, and Loveman called the arena "part of our global-growth strategy and very much part of our master plan for Las Vegas."

Leiweke stressed in a series of comments that there was no commitment from NBA Commissioner David Stern or his NHL counterpart Gary Bettman. But in a separate interview, he made it clear there was enough progress behind the scenes on the NHL front and with Bettman to make this deal fall into place now.

"We know we're doing this without a commitment from him or anyone else there's going to be a team here," he told The Times. "That said, if we didn't feel strongly there was the right kind of ownership group already out there -- and the right kind of dialogue going on between that ownership group and the league -- I think we probably would have waited."

Considering the surroundings, Leiweke couldn't resist the obvious line.

"It's Vegas, we're putting our chips down here and we'll see what happens," he said."

Not the best timing for this sort of conversation on the NBA front. It could still be a possibility for an NHL team though but maybe all of the sports leagues should take notes from what's going on in the NBA right now.

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