Las Vegas Aces: a New Face in the West
In the off season, the San Antonio Stars moved to Las Vega and became the Las Vegas Aces. The team was put up for sale after the 2017 season, around the same time as the New York Liberty. And contrary to the NY team, the Stars found a buyer quite quickly in the MGM Resorts. This is actually the second move in franchise history, as the team was founded in 1997 as the Utah Starzz.
It was decided they would play their home games at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, which has a capacity of 12.000 people. This is an upgrade for their previous home arena, which only had a capacity of 9.000. It’s actually quite surprising that they got more room for visitors, as two other teams, the New York Liberty and the Washington Mystics were moved to arenas with less capacity. But, it’s a very good sign for the WNBA that MGM gives the Aces the chance to grow and attract more audience.
At the same time, the Aces signed Bill Laimbeer as their new head coach and the President of Basketball Operations. This means he is also in charge of assembling the roster, as well as coaching the team. Laimbeer has already won three championships as a head coach. He should make sure that the Aces have a better season than their last as the Stars (8-26). Though the Aces are a young, unexperienced team, they have assembled some talented players in the last years, following their bad results. This year, they selected A’ja Wilson as first pick in the 2018 draft, who had a great college career with South Carolina. A couple of games into the season, Wilson has already proved her worth, as she secured the Aces’ first win of the season, by scoring 26 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, but most of all, she was a force on defense.
Highlights from tonight's win! #LVAces #AcesWin ♦️♠️🏀 pic.twitter.com/eOnDVmWCDA
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) June 2, 2018
The Aces are not the first professional sports team that has relocated to or was founded in Vegas, and it will probably not be the last one as well. Last year, the Vegas Golden Knights, an NHL team, started to play in Vegas, and they were definitely in it to win. They’ve even managed to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season, as the third team in NHL history. Furthermore, the Oakland Raiders will be relocating in 2020, and will be renamed the Las Vegas Raiders (NFL). Maybe in the future, they’ll even decide to relocate or found an NBA team in Las Vegas.