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Las Vegas ‘definitely’ on NBA’s expansion list, commissioner says

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Las Vegas is “definitely” on the league’s expansion list Wednesday.

Silver, who appeared on ESPN’s “The Pat McAfee Show,” said the NBA will turn its attention to expansion once it has a new TV deal.

“We have one more year left on our television deal in the U.S. after this year,” Silver said. “So we want to figure out what our media relationships are going to look like, but then we’ll turn to expansion and Vegas is definitely on our list.”

The NBA would add to Las Vegas’ growing list of professional sports offerings.

It already includes the Raiders, Golden Knights and Aces. The Athletics plan to arrive in 2028.

One question that comes up as the city adds teams is its market size.

Las Vegas is the 40th-ranked media market in the U.S., leading some to wonder if it can support so many franchises. Silver said that’s not a concern thanks to the mix of local support and tourism in Southern Nevada.

“What’s remarkable about Las Vegas, it’s not that large of market as far as the U.S. goes,” Silver said. “But man, do they punch above their weight.”

McAfee said the area is great at hosting pro sports. He broadcast his show from Super Bowl 58 radio row four days last week at Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

“That place (Las Vegas) is perfect. … You see how everything is set up perfectly to host,” McAfee said. “It feels like they have a real need and yearn for professional sports. They show up for everybody.”

Silver said he took note of the success of Las Vegas’ first Super Bowl. The game garnered the largest TV audience in U.S. history, according to CBS Sports.

“It seemed like everybody I knew was there for the Super Bowl,” Silver said. “It was the center of the sporting world and by that I really mean world. … I can tell you by virtue of how global we are, there was enormous awareness of Las Vegas and awareness that our Super Bowl was there. From everything I saw, in addition to having an incredible game, it was a huge success.”

The Super Bowl showed how much Las Vegas has grown since hosting the 2007 NBA All-Star game. That weekend wasn’t remembered as a success.

“The city felt a little bit overwhelmed,” Silver said. “I think now, all these years later, with multiple pro sports teams, they built the airport up, a lot more properties and everything else, they know how to host events in a first-class way.”

The league has still been involved with Las Vegas for years.

Teams first started coming to town to play each other in the summer in 2004. The NBA Summer League is now a key event on every club’s calendar.

“From the days when sports leagues weren’t playing in Vegas and some leagues weren’t even taking advertising from Vegas, we brought our Summer League there,” Silver said. “And then an All-Star Game there. So we’ve never been anti-Vegas as a league.”

The NBA Summer League, which is planned for July 12-24 at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion this year, is like a franchise to Silver and the league. The annual gather often brings team executives and veteran players to town, making it as much a networking event as a basketball one.

The NBA expanded its Las Vegas footprint this season as well. It hosted its the semifinals and final of its first-ever In-Season Tournament at T-Mobile Arena, with the Lakers defeating the Pacers for the title.

“I feel like we already have a big presence in Vegas,” Silver said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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