Before the Supreme Court put the issue of legal sports betting in the hands of each state, Las Vegas was a bit off-limits to anything outside of boxing or mixed martial arts. Vegas has a well-deserved reputation as a city where things can go haywire. It’s a land of temptation and major sports leagues have feared it.
Imagine the “Last Dance” episode where Michael Jordan played an NBA Finals in Sin City that could have happened. As Vegas occupied a unique place as a city teeming with legal sports betting excess, the big sports stayed as far away as possible.
Now that teams have direct dealings with sportsbooks (something that wasn’t allowed in any major league just a few years ago), Las Vegas has lost some of its danger. Sure, players could drink too much and end up getting busted with a hooker, drug dealer, or drug dealer hooker, but that can happen in many states.
Well, while Las Vegas does excess better than any other city, it’s not unique in that sense. If you take that away, Las Vegas has become a major destination for sports. The Oakland Raiders sell out every game while filling hotels on the Strip. Every NFL weekend has become a major event that brings in millions to Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get a free reportMGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get a free reportWynn Resorts (WYNN) – Get a free reportand the other strip players.
The NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights aren’t quite as big, but they’re a hot ticket if they pack the MGM and Caesars facilities near the T-Mobile Arena. Las Vegas has also hosted the NFL Draft, the NBA Summer League and a Formula 1 race will be a big event next year. And of course, there’s a Super Bowl ahead and the looming possibility of Oakland A’s moving to the city from Major League Baseball, along with vague plans that the NBA will put a team on the Strip.
However, now Las Vegas has landed another major sporting event that would have been unthinkable earlier.
Las Vegas wins NCAA Finals 4
While pro sports leagues had previously avoided Las Vegas, the NCAA had played early-round March Madness games in the city. There was a time when the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) was a contender for the championship and the college government didn’t shun Sin City, but it kept the Final Four from one of the cities best suited to do so are to align it.
That will change in 2028 when Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, will host the Final Four with the semifinals on April 1 and the championship game on April 3.
“We are extremely excited to bring the NCAA Premier Championship to Las Vegas, a city that has hosted numerous championships from multiple member conferences for a number of years,” said Chris Reynolds, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee chairman.
The move to move the Final Four to Las Vegas essentially removes any lingering doubts about the city as the world’s premier sports destination.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of hosting the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium,” said UNLV Athletics Director Erick Harper. “Our city has been a center for basketball at all levels for many years and to now host one of the premier events in all sports is a culmination of how Las Vegas has truly become the sports and entertainment capital of the world.”
Las Vegas owns the sports world
No city has the density of hotels, restaurants and entertainment that the Las Vegas Strip offers. The entire Strip is 4.2 miles long and much of it is walkable. By 2028, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop will be fully operational, transporting people in driverless Teslas through underground tunnels across the city.
Las Vegas has the facilities for major events where selling tickets is out of the question. The biggest draw, however, is likely to be the constant influx of tourists. The Oakland A’s don’t have to be good when they play in Las Vegas, and they’ll probably still have sold out most games. An NBA team on the Strip would probably be even more attractive.
Hosting events or running a team in Las Vegas comes with great benefits. Caesars, MGM and Wynn don’t need to ramp up to host major events, they just need to raise prices. Yes, the F1 race requires some temporary seating and the NFL draft had a one-time setup, but those are minor issues compared to what the average city has to do to make a Final Four or other similar-scale event viable .