Most of us go to Las Vegas for the obvious. There’s no doubt that the city has all the entertainment you could ever want — from mild to wild to those things that just need to stay in Vegas.
But what you might not realize is that Las Vegas is also a great place for sports fans. Vegas isn’t known for skimping, and in addition to all the extravagant restaurants, hotels, and casinos, they’ve built some amazing sports arenas and venues — with all that Vegas glam we know and love.
You can check out minor league baseball and NHL hockey, watch fighters duking it out in the ring — you can even get your rodeo on, if that’s your thing. Time your trip around your favorite sports season, and you won’t be disappointed.
Baseball fans are practically dancing in the streets over Vegas’ latest addition: a new playing field for their Triple-A team, the Aviators. Located in downtown Summerlin, a 20-minute drive from The Strip, this $150-million ballpark replaces the team’s old digs at Cashman Field and has some serious wow. It features the largest LED scoreboard ever built for minor league baseball, cooling mesh seats for the comfort of your derrière, and an entertainment area with gourmet food options — a Giada De Laurentiis frosé or bacon-wrapped hot dog from Sparrow + Wolf chef Brian Howard, anyone? — drinks, a kid zone, and a pool.
Yep, you can get in some pool time between innings. (Life is just too easy sometimes.)
Talk about working on that tan — the Las Vegas Lights play soccer all summer long, with home games taking place at Cashman Field. Meanwhile, out of the sunshine, home games of the Las Vegas Aces women’s basketball team happen at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
There are also UFC and boxing matches going on at different times throughout the year, all taking place at indoor venues — so you can enjoy living that air-conditioned life. And since summer passes for the off-season in Vegas, hotel prices can be lower to match.
Vegas residents have already developed a fierce and frenetic loyalty to their new(ish) NHL team, the Golden Knights, who were introduced in 2017 and as the city’s first big professional sports franchise. They immediately won the hearts of local residents when they managed to land a place in the Stanley Cup Finals, the first inaugural team to do so in 50 years. Home games take place right on The Strip at T-Mobile Arena.
Fall also marks the start of football season — and while the stadium isn’t quite ready yet, fans are standing by for the Oakland Raiders to make the move to their new home in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Stadium is slated for an August 2020 opening date and will host both the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV college football teams. Plans for the stadium include a clear-domed roof, windows that look out towards The Strip, and a natural grass field.
In addition to being the heart of hockey and football season, winter in Vegas means the National Finals Rodeo. Held in early December at the Thomas & Mack Center, the 10-day event brings competitors from all over the country to show off their mind-boggling skills in events like barrel racing, steer wrangling, and bull riding.
The Thomas & Mack Center is located on UNLV’s campus, with 14 different food outlet spaces and eight full-service bars. Just make sure to time your drink-nabbing between rounds, as rodeo is one of those events where things get very, very dramatic very, very quickly. (And you don’t need any foreknowledge to follow the action.)
“Amateur” sports (and sports bars)
Keep that sports vibe rolling in between big-name games. Golf enthusiasts can check out Topgolf, located at the MGM Grand, where in addition to swinging away in one of their 100+ hitting bays, you can chill in a cabana or take a dip in the two pools. And, in case you were wondering — yes, you can drink and golf.
Over at the Luxor, the recently opened HyperX Esports Arena is Vegas’s first esports venue, catering to both professional and amateur gamers. With a 50-foot LED video wall, tons of gaming stations, and food and drinks galore — plus surprisingly low entry fees — this goes way beyond the video arcades from back in the day.
If it’s a really good drink you’re after — and maybe a large TV — The Strip has some great sports bars. Check out Beer Park, located at Paris Las Vegas, or Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo, where the festival seating makes you feel like you’re in the thick of the action. And don’t be too quick to discount some of the smaller watering holes, such as Umami Burger. Here, football is king and their 50+ TVs and sports book mean you can drink, watch the game, and place your bets all at the same time.
In short: Pick your personal favorite time of year and go, because these days it seems like every season in Vegas is the best season for sports fans.