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Aces sponsorship deal already a success for LVCVA

Updated May 22, 2024 - 11:31 am

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board members aren’t sharing their thoughts about Friday’s surprise announcement to present 12 Las Vegas Aces players $100,000 sponsorships each, even as most of them knew nothing about it until after the now viral video went live.

A spokesperson for the public-private destination marketing organization on Monday said the $1.2 million authorized for the sponsorship came from the current fiscal year’s marketing budget and thus was unanimously approved last May when the board OK’d its $463.4 million spending plan.

But there was no line item designating the payout as a sponsorship for the Aces players.

Several board members contacted Monday and Tuesday did not return calls or emails seeking comment on the sponsorships.

The LVCVA board is composed of eight elected officials and six representatives of Southern Nevada’s resort industry. Revenue used for the organization’s multimillion-dollar marketing of Las Vegas is generated by room taxes imposed on guests who stay at the city’s resorts.

Through a spokesperson, LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill, who made the sponsorship announcement to players in their locker room, said the publicity following the announcement made it one of the most successful marketing moments for Las Vegas in recent memory.

“In just 48 hours we had 2 million views of the video on our X channel (@vegas) and 1 billion earned media impressions, and Vegas is part of a national conversation,” he said.

Some board members, including the mayors of North Las Vegas, Pamela Goynes-Brown, and Henderson, Michele Romero, and former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst, joined Hill for the announcement to the team.

So far, most of the reaction to the sponsorships posted on the LVCVA’s X account has been positive, with posts applauding the organization’s decision to find a way to award players without them knowing about it.

“The players’ agents were approached and sponsorship agreements have been offered — the next step is to work with each agent on specifics and signing,” an LVCVA spokesperson told the Review-Journal Monday. “An LOI (letter of intent) was presented to each agent, which each agent agreed to. Each LOI had a couple of deliverables that will now be finalized with each agent. That part of the agreements determines specific marketing deliverables like image use, appearances and other ways of representing the Vegas brand.”

What that means is that at some point, players may be asked to wear LVCVA gear. League rules prohibit players from wearing brand designations on their uniforms.

While most public comments about the sponsorships have been positive, others were more critical, suggesting that the sponsorship money could have been better spent.

A person identifying himself on X as David Foster, @bpchamp001 said, “The city better start prioritizing the payment of our teachers and public safety officials! I guarantee you, these hard-working educators, police officers, and firefighters contribute significantly more to our city and its people than any basketball players.”

Others said they believed it to be an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars — although the taxpayers, in this case, are visitors paying a room tax.

While the WNBA confirmed that it is investigating the sponsorships, the LVCVA said it is moving ahead.

“Our sponsorship offer to the Las Vegas Aces is no different than any other LVCVA marketing program,” Hill said. “There are deliverables for each player, including image use, appearances and other ways of representing the Vegas brand.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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