After the October approval by the WNBA and NBA Board of Governors for the relocation of the of the San Antonio Stars to Las Vegas, the franchise’s new owner and operator MGM Resorts International has renamed the team the Las Vegas Aces, according to a press release.
At the same time MGM announced that it was acquiring the WNBA franchise, which spent its inaugural season in Salt Lake City before moving to San Antonio prior to the 2003 season, and moving it to Nevada, the company also announced that it had named four-time NBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Coach of the Year Bill Laimbeer as the Las Vegas Ace’s President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach.
The move comes after in June last year, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the League had granted an expansion franchise to Sin City. The Vegas Golden Knights began playing as the NHL’s 31st team in the 2017-18 season, becoming the first of the four major North American professional sports leagues to put a team in Las Vegas.
It is also in keeping with the NFL’s decision in March this year to approve the Raiders’ move from Oakland to Las Vegas. NFL owners approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas despite a last-ditch effort from the Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to delay the vote in order to promote a plan that included a new, $1.3 billion stadium, to keep the Raiders in the California city.
Laimbeer, whose No. 40 jersey was retired by Detroit in 1995, said, “Selecting a new name is an important and symbolic step,” according to CardPlayer.com. The now 60-year-old Laimbeer went on to say, “Las Vegas has enthusiastically embraced us, and we’re incredibly excited for this opportunity. We have a strong roster driven to succeed, which makes this name an ideal choice. ‘Las Vegas Aces’ is a nod to the excellence, confidence and competitive spirit of our new hometown.”
Recently, on ESPN’s “Around the Rim”, Laimbeer talked about how the deal came about. He said that he received a call from the chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, Jim Murren, saying that they were going to buy the San Antonio Stars and that they’d like him to be a part of it.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center will host the Aces games next year. According to the report, MGM is expecting 17 home games, with the season beginning in May.
According to LegalSportsReport, due to the obvious conflict of interest, you won’t be able to bet on the Aces at MGM properties. The Las Vegas-based company will also not be listing Aces games at any of its Nevada sportsbooks. Any one of the nearly 200 sports books that are not MGM-owned and operated, however, will likely be taking action on the new Las Vegas WNBA team.