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Volume 24 No. 179
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WNBA Aces Owner MGM Resorts Committed To Making Vegas Franchise A Success

Though there is no guarantee the WNBA Las Vegas Aces "will be a profitable venture" for new owner MGM Resorts, the company is "committed to making the team work," according to Mike Grimala of the LAS VEGAS SUN. The WNBA has "historically not been a moneymaker," but MGM will spend $10M toward upgrading Mandalay Bay Events Center to "prepare for the Aces' arrival." Coach Bill Laimbeer has been "smitten with MGM's willingness to fund the team." Laimbeer said, "I came here thinking I had to do everything myself. And I realized, 'Holy cow, look at this. Oh, you've got that? And you've got that too?'" He added, "We were talking practice site. What do we do about a practice site? You know, in Year 1, I'm figuring (we'll practice) anywhere we can go. And they're like, 'Why don't we go build this?' And I'm like, 'Well, that'll take a while.' And they're like 'No, we've got our own construction company, we've got our own designers, we can build it quick.'" Grimala wrote if the Aces "prove successful, it could pave way for an NBA team to eventually land in Las Vegas." MGM Resorts Int'l President Bill Hornbuckle said, "We have an intimate relationship (with the NBA). The NBA owns the WNBA, and so [NBA Commissioner Adam Silver] knows exactly what has happened here. ... The NBA, over time, hopefully becomes a part of this community in a bigger way. But one day at a time. It's a long way away" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 12/17).

THE PLACE TO BE: Grimala in a separate piece noted Laimbeer "believes attracting talent -- whether it's players or coaches or front office personnel -- is one area in which Las Vegas won't have to worry." Laimbeer: "It's going to be a huge bonus for us because people want to be here. And the first-class operation that MGM is setting up, the amount of commitment and resources they're putting forth for this team, players notice that. Word-of-mouth will get around fast" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 12/17).

KNOW WHEN TO HOLD 'EM: In Las Vegas, Todd Dewey reported MGM Resorts "won't accept any wagers" on Aces games next season, which starts in May. MGM Resorts VP/Race & Sports Jay Rood said that it "hasn't been decided whether wagers will be taken on other WNBA games." He added that the betting handle on the league from the public is "pretty light." Rood: "When I say pretty light, I mean almost nonexistent. The WNBA is the playground for the wiseguys and the sharps. We might just absolutely eliminate it from our offering at this point. In the big scope of things, it's really very, very small from a handle and win-loss perspective. The handle for the entire year in the WNBA is probably less than we do on a really good NFL game" (REVIEWJOURNAL.com, 12/16).