One of the WNBA’s most promising and successful franchises has new ownership. Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis announced on Thursday that he has agreed in principle to purchase the team from MGM Resorts International, and the deal is pending approval from the WNBA Board of Governors.
“I am excited to announce that I have entered into an agreement to purchase the Las Vegas franchise in the WNBA from MGM Resorts International,” Davis said in a statement released by the team. “I will have more to say once I receive official approval from the WNBA Board of Governors and have had a chance to speak with the players, coaches and administrators of the team.”
As MGM continues to sell off many of its physical, non-gaming properties, including the Bellagio and MGM Grand Resort on the Las Vegas Strip, they also seem to have been pursuing a sale of the WNBA franchise they purchased just over three years ago. In doing so, MGM gave a lifeline to a crumbling San Antonio franchise and gave Las Vegas its second professional sports team alongside the NHL’s Golden Knights.
Now, with Davis having moved the Raiders to the desert starting with the 2020 season, he gives himself a chance to dominate pro sports in Las Vegas.
“We will continue our enthusiastic support of the WNBA, NBA and basketball in Las Vegas,” said George Kliavkoff, president of sports and entertainment at MGM.
Having sold the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where the Aces play their home games and where the 2019 WNBA All-Star game was held, and moving to a business model focused solely on casinos and sportsbooks, this sale was seemingly in the making for months.
Still, that Davis, valued at $500 million, would sign on to own a WNBA team is an interesting wrinkle here, as he becomes immediately among the wealthiest and most well-known team governors in the league.