Minor league baseball – Vegas style


Sports in the 21st century is rarely the noble amateur contest where young men, with very little special training or equipment, strip down to competition clothing and go at it.  It has become something quite different; sports for the most part is business, in some cases very, very big business; the New York Yankees and Manchester United are billion dollar enterprises that transcend their national origin and even their sport.  But regardless of the sport, the nation or the city sport is business.  The business is very often stimulated by friendly wagers between fans, through the medium of a booking, of course – it adds spice and excitement, but that is a separate story.   The size of the city does make a difference in the number of fans, the amount of ticket, advertising, radio, television and merchandising revenues.  But even in small towns there is money to be made in putting a show on the field of play.

In Nevada we only have small towns,  Las Vegas is the largest city we have and it would not be called big in any state but Nevada, Idaho or Montana.  Nevada only has two “cities, Reno and Las Vegas.  They are very different in most everything; Las Vegas is bigger, richer and more, more of everything – Reno is still the small town it was a century ago, there are more people here, but it has retained much character.  The two cities do share one thing, although of course the do it differently. Each has several minor league sports franchises; and in baseball each is upgrading the experience.  A couple of years ago, a new owner/developer came to Reno and bought a minor league team, he convinced the city to give some him tax concessions and other financial incentives to build a new stadium in the downtown.

The city agreed and the ball park was built, the team is competitive and drawing good crowds – as many as the developer forecaster, everyone is pleased.  I don’t remember the cost, but it was in the neighborhood of $30 million.  This week, Las Vegas started down that same path; a new owner/developer is buying the local baseball  team – price $30 million; but that is not the news, it is the new sports complex; note not stadium or ball park, but complex.  The complex is meant to eventually house an NBA team, a major league soccer team and a minor league baseball team.  The price?  This is the Vegas touch, even in a down economy, the guy is proposing $1.5 billion. No word on whether he has the money in his pocket or if he hopes to take it out of someone else’s pocket.  Vegas is a dumbfounding place, even in the worse of times people there dream bigger and more elaborate dreams than any place on the planet, except Dubai and for the moment at least they have stopped dreaming in Dubai.

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