August 15th: Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleas guilty to felony charges and admits that he provided insider information about player injuries and official assignments to gamblers. Donaghy also admits that he had been betting on NBA games, including ones he had officiated, since 2003.
August 17th: Former NHL player and Phoenix Coyotes assistant Rick Tocchet is sentenced to two years probation for his involvement in an illegal gambling ring that saw millions of dollars bet on various sports.
August 22nd: AEG and Harrah's hold a press conference to announce that they are building a $500 million arena in Las Vegas set to open in 2010, with hopes of convincing an NBA and/or NHL team to come to Vegas.
Is it just me, or does the timing of this announcement seem...awful? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the NBA is going to go anywhere near Las Vegas for years. Not after the Donaghy scandal, and especially not after the violent debacle that was the NBA's All-Star Weekend. (We all do remember that is where Pacman's infamous strip club shooting took place, yes?)
There are three major problems in sports today; performance enhancers, athlete's bad behavior, and gambling. Vegas is known for fostering two of those three things. In fact, Vegas wouldn't even exist today if it wasn't for gambling and bad behavior. So at a time when the NBA is fighting a huge PR battle in the wake of a gambling scandal, these businessmen thought it would be a great idea to start building an arena aimed at getting an NBA team? Can I get an honorary MBA just for noting that this is an awful idea?
The NHL angle is slightly different, though just as bad. In all honesty, the NHL would likely jump at the chance to go to Vegas. Word on the street is that the NHL is attempting to expand by two more teams in the coming years, and if Vegas wants them the NHL would most likely come. The problem with that is the NHL is bleeding money. The TV ratings are almost non-existent. Attendance is down. Players are starting to leave for Russia to make more money. And somehow the NHL's solution to these problems is to expand? To dillute an already thinning talent pool? If this Vegas arena stakes itself to the NHL, it very well could go down with the ship. Hockey has already slipped to at least 4th on the American pro sports radar (behind NASCAR) and is perilously close to being overtaken by MMA with no signs of anything getting better.
Can someone please explain to me how building this $500 million arena is a good idea...at all?
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