As everyone from President Trump on down to state governors, county executives and small-town mayors try to safely reopen the country, one of the biggest and near-universal questions among all of us has been – when will sports leagues return?
The general consensus on the answer is filled with myriad factors, but it includes having enough coronavirus tests for players, their families, referees, team personnel and media including TV and radio crews.
They would not play in front of any fans and would all be housed in what many are dubbing a ‘bubble city’ kind of format that gives everybody lodging, restaurants, some form of entertainment and, of course, playing facilities.
Enter hotel giant MGM Resorts International.
The company has proposed an ambitious plan to the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer to have any one of them come to Las Vegas to finish their respective seasons, according to the New York Times.
The plan is complex, as you might expect. MGM has ownership of more than a dozen hotel-casinos in Las Vegas. It is proposing to anchor everybody on the Vegas Strip at its Mandalay Bay Hotel and two connecting hotels, the Four Seasons and the Delano.
Combined these properties have 4,700 rooms – more than enough lodging and restaurants to create a full city block that would be a quarantined campus just for players, families and support staff of whatever league wants to take a crack at it. Or, in other words, a bubble city with no fans and no outsiders.
The Mandalay Bay is also connected to a convention center, which not only hosts the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA but can build 24 basketball courts for games and practices.
Bill Hornbuckle, the acting chief executive of MGM Resorts, said on the company’s earnings call earlier this week that he is in contact with sports leagues.
“We have been in an ongoing dialogue with leagues and other sporting activities around televised-only events – I think boxing, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), NBA, NHL, etc. – and we can host some of that,” he said.
The concept has been floated before, including Major League Baseball’s idea to put all teams in one concentrated area such as where team spring training sites are in Arizona and Florida, but it doesn’t create the bubble city, or enclosed campus, that leagues are hoping for. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando made a similar proposal to the one floated by MGM for Las Vegas.
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