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April 22, 2019

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Murren expects Las Vegas to have NBA team within five years

Vegas Golden Knights Pregame

Steve Marcus

A view of the T-Mobile Arena before the Vegas Golden Knights first season home game Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.

With the Golden Knights' playoff run in full swing and the Raiders' Las Vegas stadium site coming into form, the NBA could be the next major sports league on its way to Las Vegas.

Speaking at a company analyst and investor day event Thursday, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said he expects the NBA to come to Las Vegas in a few years.

Murren sees an NBA team relocating like the NFL’s Oakland Raiders' pending 2020 move to Las Vegas, and not an expansion team being added, like in the case of the NHL’s Golden Knights.

“I think it’s highly likely that a team, or multiple teams, will be looking to move over the next three years,” Murren said. “We know who they are, that’s why I think it’s highly likely. I would expect that Las Vegas will have an NBA team within the next five years, if not sooner. That team would likely play at T-Mobile (Arena).”

Bill Hornbuckle, president of MGM Resorts, said that the NBA and others have paid attention to how the community has supported its first major league team, the Golden Knights, as they progressed through the season and into the playoffs.

Hornbuckle said the addition of the Las Vegas Aces WNBA franchise, which MGM Resorts owns and will play at MGM's Mandalay Bay, was a calculated decision.

“We’re in the WNBA for a reason,” Hornbuckle said. “They’re (NBA) very focused on this market — they’re very interested to see what happens. So, I think three to five-years is very real in terms of somebody coming to us and saying, ‘We want to move a team (to Las Vegas),’ and then we’ll have some considerations to make in terms of if it happens or not.”

If an NBA franchise does make the move to Las Vegas, Murren said don’t expect the casino giant to have any ownership in the team like it does with the Aces.

“We’re not going to be an NBA owner,” he said. “Even if we could, we’re not investing your (investors’) capital that way.”