‣ LeBron James, Fenway Sports Group (FSG), and RedBird Capital Partners are reportedly working together to bring an NBA team to Las Vegas.
‣ The project, which has been in the works for three years, faces financial challenges as the price for an NBA expansion team has risen from $3bn to $5.5bn-$6bn.
‣ Players and coaches participating in the In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas believe the city has the potential to become an NBA city, citing the positive atmosphere and interest in the NBA game.
RedBird Capital’s Gerry Cardinale has officially confirmed the long-rumoured idea that he, LeBron James, and Fenway Sports Group (FSG) are working on bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas.
— Watch LFC (@Watch_LFC)
The NBA rumor mill has been spinning. Whispers have been circulating that LeBron James is amassing investments. The goal? To snag an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. The In-Season Tournament, hosted in Nevada’s glitzy city, has only fueled these speculations. Now, reports confirm that Fenway Sports Group (FSG) is joining forces with the Lakers superstar in this endeavor.
This isn’t a new development. The idea of a new NBA team has been on the table since 2021. FSG’s chairman, Tom Werner, and Boston Red Sox president, Sam Kennedy, are the brains behind the proposal.
LeBron’s partnership with FSG and RedBird isn’t fresh news either. Their relationship has been growing steadily. Back in March, the 38-year-old superstar inked a lifetime deal with the company. The management group’s aim? To market LeBron on a global scale.
Gerry Cardinale, the founder and main associate of RedBird Capital Partners, dropped some hints too. He confirmed the long-rumored idea of bringing an NBA team to Las Vegas. “We’re looking at bringing an NBA expansion team here in partnership with LeBron and Fenway Sports Group,” Cardinale stated.
Cardinale is hopeful, yet realistic. “We started this project three years ago. The price talk on an NBA team three years ago was $3bn. The price talk today on an NBA expansion team is $5.5bn to $6bn. I’m not sure I can make that work,” he revealed.
Cardinale has big dreams for the project. He hopes to steer North American sports in a new direction. “Maybe we’re hitting that inflection point, and it may mean that, if we want to see a continued linear progression in these valuations, maybe it’s a different type of capital [that needs to come in]. Maybe I’m evolved out of existence, and maybe now I’m handing the baton over to a sovereign [wealth fund] or to a lower cost-of-capital provider. It could be that we’ve reached that point,” he explained.
Las Vegas as an NBA city? In-Season Tournament players and coaches seem to think it’s a possibility. After a loss to the Pacers in the tournament, Bucks All-Star Damian Lillard expressed his appreciation for the Las Vegas atmosphere. “Just all of the different things that they have made of it, and you get to be a part of it and you’re like, man, this is pretty special,” he said.
Rick Carlisle, Pacers coach, believes an NBA franchise in Las Vegas is a foregone conclusion. “This is like the worst-kept secret in the world, isn’t it, that this is eventually going to be an NBA city?” he claimed. “We’ve been coming here for so many years for Summer League. … I think the turnout today shows that there’s certainly interest in the NBA game. I believe that the NBA can make just about anything happen. The In-Season Tournament is something that there were many, many skeptics about for many years, and right now it’s all the buzz.”