With No Arena, Las Vegas' Future as NBA City Remains on Hold

The future of a professional basketball franchise in southern Nevada remained on hold after the NBA Board of Governors decided to continue monitoring developments on a new arena.

NBA commissioner David Stern on Thursday cited a report by a seven-member owners committee that said an NBA-quality arena would enhance Las Vegas' chances.

But Stern added there were no immediate plans for a new franchise in the league, and he didn't promise Las Vegas would be first in line for a team.

"The report was generally positive," Stern said at a news conference in New York City. "We looked at various arena sites, there are several prospective owners for a Las Vegas franchise, and we're talking to a lot of people."

The committee was formed in April after Las Vegas Mayor Oscar
Goodman submitted a proposal seeking an NBA franchise for Las Vegas without saying he would ask casino sports books to take NBA games off betting boards.

Stern remains uncomfortable with that position, but the committee did not ask Goodman to reconsider his stance.

Goodman called the report encouraging.

"There's no arena yet, so there's no way the NBA would commit (to Las Vegas)," said the mayor, who has long pushed for an NBA franchise in Las Vegas. "(Stern) speaks so glowingly of our city. I believe one day we'll have a (NBA) team."

Two arena projects are being discussed, but neither has begun

A $500 million, 20,000-seat arena is slated for a June 2008 groundbreaking behind Bally's hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It would be built by Anschutz Entertainment Group with private financing, and could open by September 2010.

Michigan-based REI Neon LLC is proposing a downtown arena as part of a multi-billion-dollar casino and hotel development that may seek tax rebates. No plans have been made public, although REI officials have said they hoped to have the arena open in 2010.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)