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‘A life-changing investment’: Aces players get $100K sponsorship from LVCVA

Updated May 17, 2024 - 8:05 pm

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will sponsor Las Vegas Aces players this season, paying each of the 12 on the roster $100,000.

Team members were told of the sponsorship in their locker room Friday by LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill. A video of the announcement was posted on X.

“We would like to offer each of you individually a sponsorship this year in the amount of $100,000,” Hill told team members.

Hill told the Review-Journal shortly after the announcement that the news was a total surprise to the players.

“It all came together really quickly,” Hill said. “We had folks on our marketing team bring it up, maybe for the first time late last week.”

The news comes a week after the two-time defending champions were recognized at the White House in honor of their 2023 WNBA Finals win over the New York Liberty. During the visit, President Joe Biden called on the country to support women’s sports. Hill said while he agrees with Biden, the idea was birthed independently.

Emphasis on sports

The LVCVA worked directly with players’ agents to reach the agreements. They are similar to a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal between a third party and an NCAA student-athlete. It’s a first-of-its-kind partnership, according to Hill, and had to be negotiated without knowledge of the team because of WNBA rules.

The deal utilizes the LVCVA’s revenue from room taxes imposed on motel and hotel rooms and from space rental for booths at conventions and trade shows at the Las Vegas Convention Center. While the $1.2 million pledge is a lot of money, it’s not a new idea for the authority.

“We have 100-plus influencers that we pay on a regular basis,” said Hill, noting a recent campaign with former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson to promote the city during Super Bowl 58.

“This is a sponsorship agreement with the players of the Aces. When I said we think this is a good deal for us, I meant it,” Hill added. “It is our job, and we think that’s going to easily prove out.”

While the group’s primary mission is to market the city through advertising and social media, it has placed considerable emphasis in recent years on sports, declaring the city as “the sports and entertainment capital of the world” and Las Vegas as “the greatest arena on earth.”

Hill told players that the only requirement for the sponsorship is to “just play. We want you to keep repping Las Vegas. And if you do a threepeat, there will be icing on the cake.”

However, each player signed a contract to “reach mutually agreeable opportunities for appearances on Las Vegas’ behalf.” The LVCVA will also provide players with Las Vegas-centric gear that they will be expected to wear to promote the city.

Aces guard Sydney Colson reacted on social media, calling the move a “life-changing investment.” The funds could be more than a player’s current salary, as the league minimum is about $77,000.

Colson, for example, is making a base salary of $76,535 this season, per Spotrac.com. WNBA supermax contracts can be worth up to $241,984, based on the league’s current collective bargaining agreement.

Impact on Las Vegas

The LVCVA has sponsored Formula One, the National Finals Rodeo, college basketball tournaments and the Las Vegas Bowl.

On Tuesday, board members agreed to spend $1.2 million to sponsor the next two NBA Summer League seasons and $5 million to sponsor Wrestlemania 41 on April 19-20, 2025, at Allegiant Stadium.

As for team sponsorships, the LVCVA did sign a 20-year, $80 million naming rights agreement in 2017 with The Howard Hughes Corp. to guarantee that “Las Vegas” would always be in the name of the stadium where the Aviators play, Las Vegas Ballpark.

The organization is preparing to review its 2025 fiscal year budget with a scheduled May 29 public hearing. Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger characterized the financial plan with a $457.5 million general operating budget as conservative, and he said if revenue projections are greater than anticipated, the authority could have a budget augmentation later in the year.

The Aces opened the season with an 89-80 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday after their second championship banner was raised and they received their rings.

“I think everybody understands the moment,” Hill said. “Everybody understands this pay discrepancy. What we’re able to do matters to the Aces. I think everyone is going to be happy that this elevates the Aces and elevates all of us.”

Review-Journal reporter Richard N. Velotta contributed to this report. Contact Callie Lawson-Freeman at clawsonfreeman@reviewjournal.com. Follow @CallieJLaw on X. Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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