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Las Vegas’ sports teams drive economic development, officials say

Updated March 15, 2019 - 11:07 pm

Las Vegas’ sports teams are driving tourism and economic development on top of inspiring a sense of community, team owners and presidents told the Latin Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

“It’s not just the teams that are physically here. It’s all of the other sports that people are taking in as they come to our city,” Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz said during a panel at the chamber’s annual business and networking luncheon.

Officials from the Knights, the Raiders, the Aces, the Lights, the Aviators and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway answered questions Friday about the impact of sports on the Las Vegas economy.

The Raiders’ most obvious contribution to the Vegas economy is the $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat stadium under construction, team president Marc Badain said. He said the construction project has created jobs, and the stadium will continue to bring in revenue as it hosts Raiders games and other events, attracting more tourists to the city.

“The stadium finally is, for this market, I think, the final piece to cap off the infrastructure here,” Badain said.

The Aviators’ $120 million Las Vegas Ballpark will add to that infrastructure, general manager Chuck Johnson said. Nearly 3,000 people attended a job fair last month to fill part-time and game day staff positions at the new baseball field.

“So to see the impact of that is easy,” Johnson said.

The Aces are planning to start construction on a new practice facility in Henderson, head coach Bill Laimbeer said.

“We’re not there yet,” Laimbeer said. “But we’re going to drive basketball in this town.”

He said the team’s economic impact would become clear after it becomes more successful.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a major draw for sports tourism, said Jeff Mosely, vice president of public relations.

He said the speedway can bring in more than $100 million in one NASCAR weekend alone. About 80 percent of attendees come from out of state.

“We’re very dependent on people coming from out of town,” he said.

The speedway hosts about 1,400 events per year in addition to major NASCAR events, he said, and it hires about 2,000 race day employees.

All the panelists said the teams’ effect on the community is their most valuable contribution.

“We are bringing vitality and life to our community,” Lights owner Brett Lashbrook said. “We are so proud to be here making this the sports and entertainment capital of the world. And that, my friends, is economic development.”

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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