8 gifts Las Vegas sports fans received this year

Sports in Las Vegas rose to a whole new level this year.

From getting a major league team to hosting big fights and even seeing major sports book renovations, local sports fans got quite a bit in the past 12 months, many of them things fans never thought they would see in Sin City.

Here’s a list of gifts Las Vegas sports fans could say they got for Christmas this year:

MAJOR LEAGUE SPORTS

Las Vegas landed its first major league sports team with the NHL awarding Bill Foley an expansion team on June 22.

And aside from already having a venue built for the team in T-Mobile Arena, which opened this year before the Las Vegas expansion team was announced, this gift just kept giving and giving.

Golden Knights fans learned the official team name and logo and got the chance to purchase apparel five months after the team was awarded.

Foley also purchased land and broke ground on a practice facility promised to be the “best of its kind” by Golden Knights general manager George McPhee.

NEW UNLV BASKETBALL COACH

Technically UNLV basketball fans got the gift of two new coaches this year … but only one stayed.

The Rebels chose coach Marvin Menzies to lead the team April 16 after previously hired coach Chris Beard left the program a week after being hired by UNLV to take the coaching job at Texas Tech.

Menzies replaced Dave Rice, who was fired during the season.

MANNY PACQUIAO RETURN

Boxing fans were blessed with the return of Manny Pacquiao to Las Vegas. Pacquiao fought Jessie Vargas in November at the Thomas & Mack Center.

While it wasn’t anywhere near the hype of his previous Las Vegas fight — against Floyd Mayweather in 2015 — the bout saw the future Hall of Famer beat Vargas by unanimous decision to win the WBO welterweight belt.

MCGREGOR

Mixed martial arts fans got a lot of Conor McGregor — two fights, both against Nate Diaz.

McGregor and Diaz first met at UFC 196 on March 5 at the MGM Grand Garden, where McGregor was handed his first loss, by second-round submission. The two then met at UFC 202 on Aug. 20 at T-Mobile Arena, where McGregor won by majority decision.

RONDA ROUSEY IS BACK

Speaking of UFC … she is back. Need we say more?

MMA fans get to see the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion return to action next week at UFC 207. Rousey has been out of the octagon for more than a year after losing to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Australia — the first defeat of her career.

Rousey will fight bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes on Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena.

STADIUM APPROVAL

Southern Nevada doesn’t have an NFL team, or any team to fill a 65,000-seat stadium, but pro football fans in Las Vegas did see the approval of a $1.9 billion domed stadium proposal.

The proposal, signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval in October, would be home to the NFL’s Raiders if the league allows them to relocate from Oakland — a goal owner Mark Davis has been working toward for a long time.

SPORTS BOOK RENOVATIONS

For those who enjoy kicking back at the sports books to place bets and watch games, many places around the valley made major improvements.

Station Casinos sports books at Red Rock Resort, Boulder Station, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Sunset Station, Santa Fe Station and Palace Station all saw improvements in video capabilities, seating, displays and more.

The Westgate’s sports book had the biggest renovation of the year, and the Venetian’s Lagasse Stadium debuted, bringing a high-end feel to sports viewing and dining.

EL TRI vs. ICELAND

We don’t have a Major League Soccer team, but fans were gifted quite the announcement last month for an upcoming matchup. Mexico and Iceland will play a friendly Feb. 8 at Sam Boyd Stadium ahead of FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The game was announced last month, and tickets are on sale.

Three days later, we get the return of MLS with an exhibition between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes.

Which gift was your favorite? Take our poll below:

 

Contact Kira Terry at kterry@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3880. Follow @kiraterry on Twitter.

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