NBA and WNBA were offered a whole block on the Las Vegas strip to play and live by MGM Resorts, report says
A landlocked version the UFC's Fight Island suggestion
A report from Kevin Draper of the New York Times outlines how most of the Las Vegas-centric ideas regarding the return of suspended sports seasons are put forward by Vegas businesses themselves. The most notable one came from MGM Resorts International, which has proposed most of the United States' major sports leagues with a suggestion of separating an entire section of the strip to house athletes and appropriate staff.
The Times specifically got its hands on a particularly ambitious proposal that MGM sent to the NBA and WNBA in the hopes that those leagues would go through them to get their respective seasons rolling.
MGM envisions a fully quarantined campus, essentially one full block of the Las Vegas Strip, where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want. The athletes would be joined by their families, league and broadcast media employees, as well as the staff and vendors needed to serve them, with access to lounges, spas, restaurants and all the other perks the resorts offer (yes, even gambling).
This is just the latest in this trend of suggesting the creation of pseudo-quarantined sports islands for leagues to take place. MLB has been connected with a plan to with players stationed in local hotels and games played throughout minor league fields used during Spring Training. The UFC has , and now there's this idea with the NBA -- though it's worth mentioning no one of consequence was willing to comment on this issue.
As for the details, the NBA teams would be put up in the 4,700-room Mandalay Bay resort which features three hotels: the Mandalay Bay, the Four Seasons and the Delano. MGM service staff would stay in the Luxor, which has an enclosed walkway to the Mandalay Bay which connects the main hotels. The plan also involves building 24 basketball courts at the convention center at Mandalay Bay, home of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces. Those courts would then get split between those used for televised games and those used for practice.
MGM, as well as the Vegas strip as a whole, is quite financially incentivized to get a deal like this with the NBA done as the coronavirus has tanked the vacation industry that it thrives on. Bill Hornbuckle, the acting chief executive of MGM Resorts, said the company's earnings were down 29 percent from this time last year, according to the New York Times.
Of course, the biggest hurdle -- outside of the NBA's approval itself,-- is making sure this is done in a way that does not allow the coronavirus to be an issue. This plan of a quarantined NBA village would need to be approved by local and state officials, which would include Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, who has been aptly cautious about returning the state to business as usual. That being said, it's worth noting that that very same governor appointed MGM's former chief executive, James Murren, to chair the state's COVID-19 Response, Relief & Recovery Task Force.
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