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The Evolution of Las Vegas Sports Teams

Friends Watching Las Vegas Sports Teams Play at Sports Bar

Any native Vegas local will tell you that without having professional sports teams within city limits, they’ve always had to pick and choose other teams to root for during games. Las Vegas has struggled for years to try to get major league teams to our Valley. But as far as 2018 goes, professional Las Vegas sports teams have been the talk of the town.

Las Vegas has been a sports town for a long time, just not in the same way sports havens Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York are. Thousands of visitors flock to Las Vegas every year to watch and bet on events like the Super Bowl, March Madness, NASCAR, and championship boxing and UFC matches. But as far as the big four goes… NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB… Vegas has never been home for a big leaguer. The main reason for the delay of introducing major leagues to the Valley was the concern about Nevada’s gambling reputation and the possibility of fixed games. Several minor leagues have tried over the years, only lasting a few seasons.

Between the progress of the Las Vegas Raiders stadium, the move for the WNBA Aces, and the inaugural season of the Golden Knights, Vegas has become more than just a sports betting capital – it’s now a professional sports team hub. While we’ve seen several Las Vegas sports events pop up in the past and many failed attempts from other sports, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel on our road to being a professional sports team city.


Las Vegas Basketball


Las Vegas has been a hotspot for basketball events for a long time, hosting events like All-Star weekends, the NBA Summer League, and is a hub for those partaking in March Madness every year. The Los Angeles Lakers make it a point to play at least one-preseason game here each year and the Runnin’ Rebels at UNLV have a great fanbase going for them.

As far as professional basketball goes, Las Vegas has finally been graced with the presence of the WNBA, introducing the Las Vegas Aces. This now-Las Vegas basketball team started out in Salt Lake City as the Utah Starzz then moved over to San Antonio for the 2003 season. The team, of course, debuted in Las Vegas as the Aces, sparking rumors about a possible NBA team following suit in the near future.


Las Vegas Aces WNBA Team During GameAttribute: flickr – Lorie Shaull


Las Vegas Football


Football has had a long-running history in Las Vegas with some wildly unsuccessful teams such as the Continental Football League team, the Las Vegas Cowboys in 1968, and the Canadian Football league team, the Las Vegas Posse in 1994, with no Las Vegas football team lasting more than two seasons.

From there, indoor arena football was introduced with three different teams debuting in Las Vegas: The Gladiators in 2003, The Locomotives in 2009, and The Outlaws in 2015. The arena leagues had some popularity but locals quickly lost interest after the indoor football teams couldn’t keep a promising record. Of course, Las Vegas is now brimming with excitement as we watch the development of the new Las Vegas Raiders Stadium, brick by brick.


Las Vegas Hockey


As a city in the middle of the desert, who knew Las Vegas’ first professional sport would be played on ice?! Well, Las Vegas hockey has been in and out of the city since 1968 – when a senior amateur team called the Las Vegas Gamblers joined the California-Nevada Hockey League. Their run only lasted three seasons. Following The Gamblers, a semi-pro team, the Las Vegas Outlaws came along in 1971 and lasted two seasons.


Las Vegas Golden Knights Professional Las Vegas Sports Team
Attribute: Commons.Wikimedia.org/Alex Tuch


Hockey picked up steam in popularity in 1993 when the Las Vegas Thunder joined the International Hockey League as an expansion team. The Thunder had several current and future NHL players and lasted six seasons. Several other junior hockey teams were started in Las Vegas, but few lasted, with the exception of The Las Vegas Storm who now play in Kearney, Nebraska as The Tri-City Storm.

Finally, in 2003, The Las Vegas Wranglers joined the ECHL and gave Vegas hockey fans what they were looking for by theming their game nights and holding wild promotions, such as a concert featuring Mini KISS between periods. The Wranglers held on for about ten seasons, then in 2016, Las Vegas exploded over the news of our approval of an NHL expansion team. And thus, our “golden” child, AKA the Vegas Golden Knights, were born and Vegas couldn’t be prouder!

Las Vegas locals are ecstatic that our city finally broke through the roadblocks and now have home teams to root for. With all the changes happening in the world of sports, it’s hard to say if we’ll be a city that hosts all major sporting leagues, but considering how the past couple years have advanced for Las Vegas sports, it’s looking like just about anything is possible at this point.

Whatever your favorite sport, enjoy watching your favorite Las Vegas sports teams play at the D, with Big Game sports packages that bring you stadium-style food, multiple screens, and drinks!