No one’s holding out for a Major League Baseball team to come to town anytime soon (not counting Big League Weekend, of course), but why not bring Spring Training to Sin City? Here are eight reasons the Cactus League would be a good fit in Las Vegas:
1. We draw crowds
Nearly 40 million visitors came to Las Vegas last year. Some of them strictly for the Strip, but others came for business or a major event and dropped money on gaming and entertainment along the way.
Clark County’s gaming revenue was $9.7 billion in 2013. There were 5.1 million total attendees at more than 22,000 conventions. All of these numbers just mean Las Vegas is good at drawing a crowd — and why wouldn’t MLB want to hold spring training somewhere people will be excited to visit?
2. The weather
OK, so we don’t really have the edge over the Phoenix area when it comes to springtime weather. But ours is just as good. With an average temperature of 71 in March and less than half an inch of precipitation, we wouldn’t have to worry about games getting rained out or fans staying away because of bad weather.
3. It’s a better location
Phoenix is just so far south. It’s not really within “quick road trip” distance of anywhere but Southern California. Las Vegas only has a slight edge when it comes to SoCal, sure (about an hour), but Californians are already used to coming here. Nearly as many Californians visited Las Vegas in 2013 as people in general visited Phoenix in the same year. (13 million to 16 million).
Add to that how easy it is to get to Las Vegas for cheap — and the tendency of people from the mountain states to make weekend trips to the city — and you have a clear favorite.
4. Pre-existing infrastructure
Las Vegas is used to big groups of people coming to town for major events (see No. 1). Plus, there are 150,000 hotel rooms in the area, more than enough to absorb extra Spring Training visitors.
Like in Las Vegas, Phoenix’s airport is close to everything instead of out in the middle of nowhere, but if you’ve ever driven Phoenix freeways you’ll give the edge to Vegas on transportation.
5. More tourism spending helps all of us
The average tourist spent more than $500 during a trip to Las Vegas in 2012, according to the LVCVA. That includes food and drink, local transportation, shopping, shows and sightseeing, and it helps keep us from having to pay income tax.
6. It comes at the perfect time
It’s after the holidays and the National Finals Rodeo, but before festival season starts, for the most part. It’s the perfect time to invite people to town (see No. 5).
7. We have a baseball crowd that’s dying for some Major League action
Las Vegans drew the short end of the stick when it comes to MLB. There are six teams that consider us in their “local market,” meaning we get a blackout for six teams because MLB claims we can get all Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics games on local channels. Fans of the NL-West are in particularly rough circumstances. The least the league could do is give us the chance to watch our team in person for one month out of the year.