WNBA Team’s Victory Parade Celebrates Las Vegas’ First Major League Championship
Posted on: September 20, 2022, 11:15h.
Last updated on: September 21, 2022, 02:16h.
The Las Vegas Aces brought Las Vegas its first major league championship on Sunday, when the women’s professional basketball team beat the Connecticut Sun, 78-71, in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals in Phoenix. Two days later, they paraded the trophy through an exuberant hometown crowd to prove it.
During the event, thousands of cheering revelers lined Las Vegas Boulevard in full Aces gear for the celebration.
The procession traveled only a block down the Las Vegas Strip — from Caesars Palace to a victory stand erected across from the Bellagio fountains. But it was the culmination of a 117-year journey for a city deprived of its own professional sports team until 2017.
The Aces made a grand entrance on their double-decker tour bus. Team forward and 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson held the trophy high as her teammates and team owner Mark Davis (who also owns the Las Vegas Raiders) looked on with pride.
“Las Vegas, I can’t thank you enough for how much you rallied behind myself and my teammates,” Wilson said once she got to the stage. “We did this one for y’all. I’ve got some of the best teammates in the world. I mean that.”
Almost Only Counts in Horseshoes
Before the Aces, only the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team came close to clinching the top honor for Sin City in a professional sport, getting as far as the Stanley Cup Finals at the end of their inaugural season in 2018.
It took a group of women to bring the first championship to Las Vegas,” said Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who declared it “Las Vegas Aces Day” in the state and also presented the team with a key to the Las Vegas Strip.
“We are so proud of these ladies for what they did — not just on the court but off the court,” Sisolak told the rally crowd. “They are role models for our community.”
Only the Beginning
The push to attract major league sports teams to Las Vegas began with an unsuccessful bid for the Montreal Expos in 2004. Working against Las Vegas at the time was the presence of legalized sports betting, which was frowned upon by many league commissioners. Questions also surfaced about whether Las Vegas’ 1.6 million population was enough to support a major-league sports franchise.
In the 18 years since all such questions about Las Vegas have evaporated. Las Vegas’ population has doubled, and the Golden Knights have played to packed houses since 2017 — and the Las Vegas Raiders since 2021 — without a sports betting scandal.
Talks are underway to land teams from the NBA, MLB, and MLS. But whatever championship trophies athletes bring home to Las Vegas in the future, the Aces will always be the first to have done it.
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