By ALAN SNEL
In Las Vegas, fans buy season tickets to watch their favorite local team for all types of reasons.
New Las Vegas Aces fans Terry Folsom and Jennifer Agao listed a few Tuesday night, from supporting women’s sports to enjoying a nice night out with family.
And one more reason — Folsom liked the fact the newly-rebranded Aces of the WNBA “embraced the gay/lesbian community. You can go out and not feel like you have to hide. It’s a nice way to spend a weekend day.”
Powerful words from one of the Aces’ newest season ticket holders, who were among several hundred to came to the Las Vegas Aces seat selection event at the team’s new home, the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
These are historic sports-business times in Las Vegas, a market with a new NHL team that began play in October, a new United Soccer League professional team that begins its regular season in March and a new WNBA team that starts training camp April 29 and plays its first game as a Las Vegas franchise May 20.
The Aces’ new corporate parent, MGM Resorts International, bought the WNBA San Antonio Stars and gave the last-place team from last season a new start on the Strip with a new coach — veteran WNBA coach and former NBA star Bill Laimbeer.
In a story published Friday, LVSportsBiz.com explained that MGM Reports will use the company’s marketing horsepower to launch the Aces in Las Vegas after MGM Resorts unveiled the team logo and name in December.
On Tuesday night, fans who paid a $100 deposit talked with a team representative about their seats, posed for photos with players Kayla McBride and Moriah Jefferson and coach Laimbeer and washed down free gourmet mini-hot dogs with a glass of champagne, beer, soda, wine or water.
The 2018 membership pricing for the 17 regular-season home games ranges from $289 for Upper Straights/End Zone to $1,054 for Lower Center Straights to $3,060 for court side to $6,250 per ticket for VIP tables on the court floor.
MGM Resorts International is aiming to sell 6,000 season tickets, and have another 4,000 on hand to sell for individual tickets, groups and tourists, said Lance Evans, MGM Resorts VP for marketing, corporate entertainment and overseeing the Aces’ business operations.
MGM Resorts is investing $8 million – $10 million for a big-time face lift and rehab of Mandalay Bay Events Center, Evans told LVSportsBiz.com Tuesday night.
The project includes installing a new center hung scoreboard and 360-degree digital ribbon, updating the 12 suites and two lounges, renovating the concourse and replacing the 10,000 seats for basketball, he said. Even the locker rooms are getting upgraded, too.
The seat selection event was well organized as Aces fans didn’t have to wait long to speak with a rep. Their names were called for scheduled appointments with ticket sales representatives, music rocked the concourse and drinks were on the house during the 5-9 p.m event.
Nothing was left to chance. There were daily one-hour meetings to make sure Tuesday night went off without a hitch and even a rehearsal of the seat selection event.
Fans appreciated the effort.
Fan Dave Prince, who described himself as a big WNBA fan who prefers watching the women’s game over the men’s, said he’s looking forward to watching the Aces. He did say that he would have preferred to have local fans pick the team’s name.
A man who will be out in Las Vegas selling tickets to female athletes at schools and clinics is Laimbeer. He’s a former four-time NBA All-Star who won NBA titles with the Pistons in 1989 and 1990 and who coached the WNBA Detroit Shock to three championships.
Laimbeer said his message to prospective ticket buyers is simple: “This is women players at the highest level so come out and enjoy it.”
He liked the fact that the Las Vegas Aces are not owned by an NBA team and will enjoy the independent ownership of MGM Resorts.
“They’re not going to be cheap,” Laimbeer said.
Player McBride, who played her college basketball at Notre Dame just like her coach, said MGM Resorts is a nice fit for the newly moved team because the Aces won’t have to play in the shadow of an NBA team.
“MGM obviously is a huge, huge business,” McBride said.
Licensed Aces logo gear is already on the WNBA and Fanatics websites.
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