There used to be concerns about having professional sports teams in Nevada. After all, Nevada was the only state where sports gambling was legal. Thanks to a few scattered issues in the past like the Black Sox Scandal and Boston College men’s basketball point shaving scandal, professional leagues didn’t want to risk players getting involved. Point shaving is when players make plays based on what the point spread in the game was. They’re usually influenced by an outside source who’s placed a big bet on the game. (Here is a list of the 17 most famous corruption scandals in sports history.)
The NHL was the first of the four major sports leagues in the United States to take a leap of faith and see what happens. Thus, the Vegas Golden Knights were born. Ever since then, sports leagues can’t seem to stop flocking to Nevada. It also helps that sports gambling is an industry that’s exploded in almost half of the states across the country. The issue of players point shaving isn’t just in Nevada anymore anyway. The fans in Nevada had longed for professional sports and have clung on ever since the arrival of their current teams.
These teams are the ones you’ll want to keep an eye on in Nevada. To determine the list of most popular teams in Nevada, 24/7 Tempo consulted several different sports-centered sites for insight and stats. These include NHL.com, NFL.com, and ESPN.
Vegas Golden Knights
Las Vegas has adopted the Golden Knights hockey team in a way nobody thought they would. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve been one of the most successful teams in the NHL ever since their inaugural season in 2017-2018. The Golden Knights went to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first year of existence, surpassing even the wildest expectations anyone could have had.
They finally reached the summit in the 2022-2023 season by beating the Florida Panthers to win their first Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights play their home games at T-Mobile Arena, where opposing players have frequently talked about how intimidating it is to play there. The Golden Knights have cultivated one of the most passionate fan bases in the NHL and continue to draw sell-out crowds to all of their home games.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders moved to Sin City in 2020 and have drawn fans from all around the world ever since. Even though the team hasn’t seen the success they want, the fanbase remains as solid and passionate as ever. It’s not uncommon for fans from the Los Angeles area to make the drive up to watch games every weekend. Local fans have grown more and more fond of the team every day that’s passed by.
The Raiders play their home games at Allegiant Stadium, a venue that’s also hosted Gold Cup soccer matches and Taylor Swift. You can find around 75,000 fans screaming their heads off any given Sunday right across from the Las Vegas Strip. Raiders fans will always be known for their dedication to the team, regardless of how good or bad it is.
Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas will always be a basketball town, no matter what. This is thanks to the success of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels in the early 1990s. While there are a lot of WNBA teams that struggle to sell seats, the Aces have the highest average attendance in the WNBA. The team relocated from San Antonio for the 2018 season and has already been to three WNBA Finals, winning the last two in a row.
The Aces play their home games at the Michelob Ultra Arena, which is attached to Mandalay Bay. Locals don’t like having to drive to the strip, but make an exception to watch the Aces play their home games. The league runs through Las Vegas, and that’s just fine with Nevada.
Las Vegas Aviators
If you’re a baseball fan in Nevada, it looks like there will finally be a team to cheer for. The Oakland Athletics recently announced their intentions to move to Las Vegas, where their current AAA team resides. The Las Vegas Aviators are one of the two AAA teams in Nevada, where fans can try to brace against the summer heat.
There have been times when the AAA Aviators have sold more seats than the Major League Athletics, showing the dedication Nevada has to baseball. Stars like Bryce Harper, Joey Gallo, and Kris Bryant all hail from Nevada. Fans who are loyal to the state appreciate seeing that. The Aviators play their home games at Las Vegas Ballpark, about 20 minutes away from the iconic strip. The locals frequent these games thanks to the ease of access and reasonable prices to get in.
The Arizona Diamondbacks had a remarkable 2023 season, making it to the World Series. This was thanks to the development of their top players while playing for the Reno Aces. The Reno Aces are the only professional team in Nevada outside of Las Vegas but are still proud of how important they are to the Diamondbacks. Like the Aviators, the Aces are an AAA affiliate team.
You can watch the Aces play at Greater Nevada Field. There are occasional golf tournaments that take place in Reno, allowing residents to watch another sport close to home. Other than that, the Aces and the University of Nevada-Reno are what fans can watch locally.
Las Vegas Lights FC
In soccer leagues around the world, there are multiple levels where the teams can elevate or be relegated based on play. The Las Vegas Lights play in what would be considered the second tier of American soccer, the United Soccer League. The Lights first took the field in 2018 and haven’t looked back since.
The team is known for doing is a cash grab once per year. Selected fans will get to try to collect as much cash as they can during halftime of one match. The Lights currently play at Cashman Field, the old home of the Las Vegas 51’s. Soccer is huge in Las Vegas, thanks to the large Hispanic community that lives there. Fans love the Lights and appreciate the effort that’s put forward to draw fans to matches.
NBA G-League Ignite
Most NBA teams have their own G-League team. One unique thing the NBA started is the G-League Ignite. This team is a chance for players who don’t want to play in college and are good enough to make the NBA within the next year or two.
This experiment has been a wild success and has produced players like Scoot Henderson and Jonathon Kuminga. Top prospects have been trying to get signed as a way to start their career one year early. The Ignite play at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, just outside of Las Vegas. Ignite plays international competitions every so often so their players can get the best experience.
The XFL was a league that legitimately rivaled the NFL back in the 1980s before financial trouble set them back. The league was brought back into existence by Vince McMahon, the owner of WWE in the late 2010s. Recently, the league relocated to Las Vegas by forming the Vegas Vipers. They noticed how passionate of a fan base Las Vegas is and wanted a part of it.
Because they’ve only played one season so far, it’s hard to judge how successful the team has been. There are former NFL players like Martavius Bryant who want another contract and chance in the NFL. The XFL has given countless opportunities to showcase talent, and the Vipers are the newest team to do so. For more information on the 21 greatest sports teams that disappeared, click here.