John Locher / AP
Published Sunday, July 26, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Updated Sunday, July 26, 2015 | 11:13 a.m.
Las Vegas’ efforts to land a professional sports franchise were chronicled in a July 19 Boston Herald story. Exhumed in that piece, headlined “Las Vegas poised to attract pro sports team, and NBA ready to strike,” was the exhaustive effort by former Mayor Oscar Goodman to lure a major-league sports franchise to the city.
When he left office, Goodman said falling short of that objective was the one piece of unfinished business in his three terms as mayor from 1999 to 2011.
“I was so anxious to get a major league franchise here, I’d rush out and try to get something done, only to see Vegas used as a kind of barter,” Goodman told the Herald. “Every team that had an issue used Las Vegas.”
There was no secret Las Vegas was thirsty for a pro sports team. The Major League Baseball teams Goodman pursued included the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Chicago White Sox — and that was just in 2004. In 2006 and 2007, he entered talks with the San Diego Chargers, trying to uproot the team from Qualcomm Stadium. In 2007, Goodman was given the go-ahead by then-NBA Commissioner David Stern to pursue an NBA team, with the L.A. Clippers and Sacramento Kings garnering speculation as teams that might move here.
As Goodman bolted across the country trying to recruit a franchise — any franchise — many organizations he sought were in talks with their home cities to improve existing arenas or stadiums, or even build new facilities. Thus began a trend of teams using Las Vegas for negotiating leverage.
Just this month, talk bubbled out of Milwaukee that the Bucks might be willing to move to the under-construction Las Vegas Arena if the Wisconsin Senate could not approve funding for a new arena. Once more, the specter of Las Vegas as a home for a pro team clouded the reality of a franchise’s relationship with its home city.
The sale of the Bucks in 2014 by former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl to a pair of hedge-fund managers was conditional on the team staying in Milwaukee. The only way to unravel that agreement was if funding for a new arena wasn’t approved by 2017. If that funding could not be secured, the team would be sold back to the league. As Las Vegas cropped up in the discussion, Kohl pledged $100 million of his own money to help pay for a new arena for the Bucks.
So, no Vegas Bucks — or Buck$, in this case.
The Bucks’ saga led NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to clarify, during the recent NBA Summer League tournament, “While we love the Las Vegas market, and I think we’ve become a large part of the summer economy here, my hope is that (the Bucks are) not going to relocate.”
Las Vegas once again was dangled and ditched, which is why developing an expansion team — an NHL team, specifically, as that league seems ripe for expansion — is far more appealing than pursuing a disenfranchised franchise.
• More from my recent interview with SLS President Scott Kreeger (The Sunday, July 19-25). I asked Kreeger about the hotel’s single retail brand, Fred Segal, which houses specialized boutiques ringing the casino.
Fred Segal is a wonderful brand, but it also is comparatively high-end — $200 designer shirts are not uncommon at SLS He. And as Kreeger has learned during his years in the Las Vegas market, particularly with Station Casinos, locals are a value-conscious lot.
“If you look at the price point, it’s a pretty high price point; it’s a little hard on the wallet,” Kreeger said. “But it is quality stuff, and it’s stuff that is a differentiator. It really is. These are clothes you’re not going to get necessarily at Nordstrom, or anywhere else, so it does provide good differentiation. But is it in alignment with the price points and sensibility of some of our customers? It isn’t. If you know the brand and you know the quality of clothes and the price point and you come purposefully looking for that, you get a great experience.”
The consequence: Expect more flexibility in the retail strategy at SLS.
“It’s all about getting into the kitchen and trying a new recipe and seeing if you can make a better batch of cookies,” Kreeger said.
Or, in this case, who can design a less-pricey dress shirt.