MGM Resorts Buys Women's Pro Basketball Team for Las VegasBy
Stars to move from San Antonio, with Bill Laimbeer as coach
NHL’s Golden Knights, NFL’s Raiders add to city’s sports scene
MGM Resorts International acquired the San Antonio Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association and will move the team to Las Vegas, the latest move in the nation’s gambling capital to embrace sports as a lure for tourists.
Bill Laimbeer, the former Detroit Piston and New York Liberty coach, will be head coach and president of basketball operations for the Las Vegas team, according to a statement from MGM. The Stars will begin playing next year in the company’s Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“We appreciate, now more than ever, the league’s confidence in Las Vegas and believe the team will be a tremendous addition to the city,” MGM’s chief experience and marketing officer, Lilian Tomovich, said in the statement.
With gambling growing only modestly nationally, Nevada casino operators have looked to sports as a way of boosting revenue and continuing to attract guests to the city. Sports leagues, meanwhile, have warmed up to Las Vegas after shunning the city for years as a haven for sports betting.
The National Hockey League’s Golden Knights, an expansion team, became the first of the major leagues to operate a team in Las Vegas when they began playing this month in T-Mobile Arena, which MGM co-owns with AEG. The Davis family, owners of the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders, also plans on moving its team to Las Vegas.
The move isn’t the WNBA’s first foray into casino territory. The Connecticut Sun, conference champions in 2004 and 2005, are owned by the Mohegan tribe and play at the Mohegan Sun resort.
MGM, based in Las Vegas, is among the companies seeking to recover after the massacre earlier this month by shooter Stephen Paddock, a guest of the company’s Mandalay Bay resort. MGM was also one of the promoters of the country music festival where the victims where shot.