By ALAN SNEL
It’s official — all 30 NBA teams will be playing in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and the Burning Man/Woodstock of pro basketball events plans to add more attractions when the NBA descends on Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus in July.
Thomas & Mack Center Executive Director Mike Newcomb told LVSportsBiz.com this morning that the event’s organizers — Warren LeGarie and Albert Hall — visited UNLV this week to plan improvements for the summer event that attracted nearly 128,000 fans at July’s summer league.
Newcomb said having all 30 NBA teams and adding the new features mean that the summer league will attract thousands more basketball fans.
At the the 2017 NBA Summer League event at Thomas & Mack and Cox Pavilion, the NBA Summer League set an attendance record with 127,843 fans from July 7-17, including a record championship game attendance of 10,304 when the Lakers defeated Portland to win the summer league title.
Newcomb said he envisions basketball legends Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson hanging out at the NBA Summer League as their Charlotte and LA Lakers squads partake in the exhibition games; a giant air-conditioned outdoor tent with fanfest-style activities for kids to shoot hoops, for example; and high-profile press conferences if teams have major free agent announcements to share.
LVSportsBiz.com reported two months ago that the Orlando Summer League was closing down.
UNLV President Len Jessup welcomed the Summer League’s growth on his campus, noting it’s an opportunity to showcase the university. An NBA fan himself, Jessup said generating more revenues and bigger crowds was part of the strategy of spending $72 million to upgrade Thomas & Mack Center with more catering space and a more modern main concourse.
The Summer League has become a great attraction for NBA fans in the summer because the all-day ticket is affordable at $30 for adults, who can watch young players and rookies try to make their mark on their NBA squads. It’s also a casual atmosphere like baseball spring training, where team executives and coaches stroll the concourse and attend games in jeans and sneakers.
Magic officials explained the Las Vegas Summer League offered games with fan crowds and an atmosphere closer to the feel of an NBA game than the summer league games in Orlando where the games were closed to the public and had only a few hundred people in the gym.
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