In one of the weirdest arena campaign moves ever, the CEO of a development group hoping to build an NBA arena in Las Vegas said this week that “we have an NBA team under contract” to move to Vegas — but only if the city approves a tax-increment financing district to kick back property taxes in the surrounding area to help pay off arena construction costs.
The arena plan is scheduled to be discussed at an August 4 county commission hearing, but meanwhile, everyone wants to know: Really? An NBA team? Which one? The Las Vegas Sun briefly mentioned that the Detroit Pistons are for sale, leading to an immediate denunciation of any such thing by the team’s current owners. And Sacramento Kings owner Joe Maloof says it’s not him, either.
NBC Sports asked around among team execs at the Summer League currently underway in Las Vegas, and came to the conclusion that the development group “got a ‘we agree to have a serious conversation with you if you get your arena built’ rather than any kind of agreement to sell.” Which would explain NBA officials’ statement yesterday that they “categorically deny” that any such contract is in place.
In any case, though, expect Las Vegas to show up in lots of stories about NBA teams seeking subsidies for the next few months, whether it’s in Detroit, Sacramento, Indianapolis, or wherever. Maybe if they play their cards right, Las Vegas can even be the new Kansas City!