Last weekend, I ran into a reliable source at a party downtown. This individual is definitely someone who is familiar with some of the “movers and shakers” in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Now, after a few craft cocktails, this individual was absolutely steadfast on one Vegas sports topic: The LA Clippers are moving to Las Vegas.
Now, I’ll be the first one to tell you after a couple of drinks, even “A League of Their Own” slugger Marla Hooch could look like Kate Beckinsale so you always take these kinds of conversations with a grain of salt. I mean, Kate > Marla, but the funs stops being fun when you wake up thinking you’re next to Kate, but you get Marla singing “It Had to Be You” instead.
With that said, the dude isn’t just a nobody. He has intimate knowledge of both scenes so it’s hard to write it off, especially as Murphy’s Bowl LLC — a Clippers-controlled company — digs in for a lawsuit filed by Madison Square Garden Co., owners of The Forum, about plans for a new Clippers arena in Inglewood.
It’s also noteworthy the same Madison Square Garden Co. sueing in Inglewood is the same one teaming with Sands Corp. here in town for a new arena behind the Venetian and the Palazzo. Seems at least somewhat suspicious they’d block one venue while building another in another market clamoring for another major league team, especially after the success of the Vegas Golden Knights in this media market.
With that deal on life support, and the Clippers constantly playing second fiddle in Tinsel Town while they get third choice on arena usage and scheduling (the Lakers and Kings get first choice) at Staples Center, it’s only fitting debate begins on whether or not the Clippers will leave town for a more accommodating destination. Seattle seems to think it’s first on the list, but they had their chance when they blew the SuperSonics into a retro hipster t-shirt brand, not an NBA franchise.
Here are five reasons Las Vegas, not Seattle, will be the new home to the Clippers
No. 1: A State-of-the-art arena is already built and ready for a new tenant
The T-Mobile Arena is the finest arena in professional sports today. It has hosted the Stanley Cup Final, countless UFC events and has the perfect capacity for an NBA team here in Las Vegas. More importantly, it is ready now. In the past, our only selling point was the Thomas & Mack Center, which is antiquated and outdated. There is no way an NBA franchise would come to Vegas to play there. But, after seeing the ridiculous pregame and in-game support within T-Mobile for the Golden Knights, the Clippers are crazy to think Seattle could provide anything remotely close to this in the next calendar year (they are building an arena for the new expansion NHL team but haven’t even broken ground yet).
No. 2: An emerging media market
Top 10 Markets for Entire Stanley Cup Playoffs on Platforms of NBC
t1 Las Vegas 4.5
t1 Pittsburgh 4.5
3 Buffalo 3.3
4 Washington, D.C. 3.2
5 Nashville 2.6
6 Tampa 2.5
t7 Baltimore 1.9
t7 Boston 1.9
9 Providence 1.8
10 Ft. Myers 1.7
— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) June 8, 2018
The Vegas Golden Knights dominated the ratings during the NHL playoff, tying hockey haven Pittsburgh for the best in all THE WORLD. Yes, the highest rated market in the world for the NHL playoffs was this little desert town where hockey couldn’t possibly work. Add an NBA team hungry for its own identity away from the large shadow cast by arguably the greatest franchise in sports history, and you can see why a Vegas move makes sense. Vegas loves the Raiders. This has always been a Raiders town. Same with anything Las Angeles. The Clippers would be moving to a city where it has a foundation. Nobody likes the Clippers up in Seattle. Nobody. They’re too busy with their lattes and thrift store shopping for hipster gear than they are an NBA team. Not even sure hockey will succeed up there. We have proven our worth here.
No. 3: Proximity to LA keeps Clippers fans in tow
Moving to Vegas from L.A. is like moving from Summerlin to Summerlin South. Same with the fan base. Vegas and L.A. are like siblings who love to visit each other’s house every weekend, much to the chagrin of their significant others. What few Clippers fans there are in L.A. would gladly make the four-hour drive to Vegas so they can see their beloved Clippers play. Nobody is hopping in their car and driving to Seattle for a weekend, unless they live in Aberdeen. The open arms with which this city would welcome the Clippers far exceeds a city like Seattle, who ran off the SuperSonics to Oklahoma (of all places). They had their chance. It’s our turn.
No. 4: It’s Vegas weather, not Seattle, during basketball season
Look, Seattle is a nice place to visit once every blue moon, if you can avoid the gloomy rain that created the discontent of the grunge generation. Problem is, Seattle averages 152 rainy days a year. Who wants to travel to that? Wardrobe packing aside, isn’t a vacation supposed to be exciting, not spend hiding inside a small cafe listening to a Band of Horses vinyl ad nauseam? We’re Las Vegas. They’re Seattle. The average basketball season temp in “The Emerald City” hovers in the mid- to upper-40s, at best. Vegas? Lower-60s, upper 50s at worst. And snow? Sleet? Freezing rain? Not here. Who wants to get off the plane already craving the soft sweet comfort of Alice in Chains? Elvis is always a more welcoming ambassador than the sad, constant whine of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box.”
No. 5: No State Income for both cities but hipster Seattle has an additional tax for the wealthy
Seattle comes off as a hipster city for tree huggers, bleeding hearts and miserable musicians. Vegas is about the financial bottom line, energy, sun and fun. While both states have no state income tax, Seattle itself has created a special tax just for the wealthy. “Wealthy” being defined as making at least $250,000 a year, far above the NBA salary minimum. It would make more financial sense to move to Las Vegas, where your money can stay safely in your own wallet, not the pockets of some bureaucracy attempting to eliminate wealth inequality by simply adding to their own budget instead of giving it back to the people who need it or who earned it.
While it is still battling its implementation in court, the measure applies a 2.25 percent tax on total income. That’s $25,000 per million made. For a max cap star? Roughly $1.2 million extra in their pockets, beyond the ridiculous tax code in California, which takes 13 percent more already. That means a move to Vegas would potentially add an extra $7.4 million into a max cap star’s take home pay. Granted, the players get paid based on the state they play their games in, but that’s still half of $7.4 million a player like LeBron James would have in his pocket to invest in better hair plugs.