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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Las Vegas is more than a casino city, it’s now a sports epicenter

The+outside+of+the+Thomas+%26+Mack+Center+on+March+13.+
Blake Wolf/The Collegian
The outside of the Thomas & Mack Center on March 13.

Las Vegas has been a hotspot attraction over the past 70 years due to its lively nightlife, grand slot machines and unique history.

The city began as a rest stop between the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake railroads in 1905.

After developments through the years and more residents pouring in, from construction workers of the Hoover Dam to military personnel at the Vegas Army Field, it led to the first themed resort named El Rancho Vegas hotel-casino on what is now The Strip.

Through the 1940s and 50s, organized crime significantly propelled the casino industry in Las Vegas, leaving the casino culture that we know now.

Yet recently, the nicknamed “Sin City” has become a stage for some of the biggest sporting events.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has situated itself as a permanent tenant in the Nevada desert, holding most of its matches at the T-Mobile arena

The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Golden Knights have also been playing at the T-Mobile Arena since it became a franchise in 2017. It made the finals in its first season and most recently won the Stanley Cup in 2023.

In November 2023, Formula 1 held its Las Vegas Grand Prix for the first time since the 1980s. Back then, the race was held in the parking lot of Caesars Palace. It was held on the streets of the city this time.

F1 isn’t the only professional league making a move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders, a National Football League (NFL) team, relocated from Oakland to Vegas in 2020 and have been playing at the newly-built Allegiant Stadium ever since. On top of that, Super Bowl LVIII, which is one of the most watched sporting events, bringing in an estimated 123.7 million viewers, was played at Allegiant Stadium back in February.

The Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland A’s are also following the Raiders’ steps and moving to Las Vegas. Although their lease ends after 2024 and they aren’t expected to be fully in Vegas with a new stadium until 2028 the plan is still there.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) summer league also takes place in Las Vegas, with previous years being played at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. This summer, it will once again return to Las Vegas.

A growing city with tons of hotels and an unmatched atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Las Vegas is thriving as an epicenter for sports.

Collegiate sports are staying caught up in the Las Vegas sports trend. This past week, four conferences held their college basketball tournaments there.

The Big West at the Dollar Loan Center, Western Athletic Conference at the Orleans Center, Pac-12 at the T-Mobile Arena and the Mountain West at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The contract between the Mountain West and the Thomas & Mack Center expires this year after 22 seasons of playing on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

With the Pac-12 dismantled, that opens up the potential of a future home for the Mountain West basketball tournament at the T-Mobile Arena.

I think it’s time for an upgrade.

If the Pac-12 merger happens or not, the Mountain West has made a name for itself, and it should definitely consider moving the tournament to the T-Mobile arena. Although the Thomas & Mack Center is a great facility, moving to a top-notch venue such as the T-Mobile Arena would solidify the Mountain West’s standing as a top conference.

This season the Mountain West is sending six teams to compete in the NCAA Tournament. That’s the most out of any conference in the west, including the Pac-12.

I’d argue that the Mountain West will be the top and most competitive conference in the west next season. Plus, with a great growing sports culture in Vegas it is necessary to keep the yearly tournament stationed there.

Either way, Las Vegas is thriving in the sports scene and I’m here for it.

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