Quick Draw: How the Las Vegas Aces Won Fans' Hearts, and the Championship

featured image

For decades, the world-famous city of sports betting, Las Vegas was one of the few large US cities without a professional sports team. In 2017, all that changed when the NHL’s Golden Knights set up shop in Southern Nevada with the NHL’s Golden Knights betting, and soon he was followed by the WNBA’s ace and his NFL’s Raiders.

Just a few years later, the Aces became the first major professional sports team to win a championship in Las Vegas with the tagline “Raise the stakes.”

UNLV Professor Nancy Ruff

On the prospect of this big win, we are professors of sports management at the UNLV College of Education and longtime Title IX professionals specializing in sports diversity, gender/racial equity in sports, and sports marketing/sponsorships. I checked with Nancy Lough, a consultant at She is also co-director of the UNLV Sports Research and Innovation Initiative. This initiative connects interdisciplinary sports researchers with students and industry leaders across the university.

What does an ace championship mean for Las Vegas, which is fairly new to professional sports?

We have become the world’s sports and entertainment capital, so it’s a huge achievement for the city. There is no

It was the first time since 2018 that Las Vegas hosted professional basketball, and considering we’re here four years later, we actually have a team that won a championship. This is a great achievement and a real pleasure to celebrate in the city. i love to party.

How important are ace wins to women’s sports?

It’s big for women’s track and field in Southern Nevada, but it’s big for sports. Part of the reason is that there is no gender in sports. We have a WNBA team, we don’t have an NBA team. But the reality is basketball, and all genders play basketball and love the game. You can want to modify and develop your own game based on what you have.

At the same time, young men and women alike can look at team president Nicky Fergus and head coach Becky Hammon and say, “I want to do this someday.” It’s not just the impact on little girls. It’s an impact on everyone in this city that we can see themselves in the championships this team has brought us.

The Aces amass a large and enthusiastic fan base made up of both locals and outsiders. why?

One of the great things about teams with these capabilities is that they’re being recruited by people who didn’t have teams before. Las Vegas is a city that many people really identify with because they come here and have a good time. It may not be their hometown, but they know it. We can go anywhere internationally, and if you say, “I’m from Las Vegas,” people will say, “Oh yeah, I know where that is.”

Another easy thing to do is fall in love with a player. A’ja Wilson isn’t just an MVP athlete, she’s got the best personality. It’s so easy to get energized and inspired when watching this team play. People want to see that level of talent, that level of emotional connection.

Historically, advertisers and others around the world have cited a lack of interest in women’s sports as a reason for underinvestment. How did Ace change the game?

There are a lot of unique things happening with this team. One is that she has an NFL team owner who also owns a WNBA team. So there is no doubt that the investment Mark Davis has made in this team is unprecedented. Getting a multi-million dollar coach alongside Becky Hammon shows he really understands the value women’s basketball brings to the city.

The same can be said for the investments he has made in facilities. WNBA teams tend not to have the same level of investment as other teams, and that tends to be seen in the fan experience and the experience of watching sports broadcasts. Once you make an investment, you no longer see levels of distinction like “less than”.

This is an example of what women’s sport could look like if you invested in it properly and fully. In fact, the return on that investment is far superior to that on any investment currently seen in any other sport, so more should be invested.

Through your research, you contributed to the development of the concept of “digital disruption”. This is a model that will change the way women’s sport is marketed, sponsored, endorsed, invested in and broadcast by using social media to connect athletes with fans. Did Ace accept this model?

A key factor that has pushed women’s sport forward over the past five years, and especially now, is the presence of a unique brand of female athletes on social media. Very powerful. We see athletes like A’ja, Chelsea, Kelsey and Dearica Hamby creating followers on social who are not only fans but like who they are as people. The really important part of it all is authenticity and having a message about what resonates with them and what they care about. One of the things that draws people to Dialika is her little girl Amaya. She has become a celebrity in her own right. And her one of the WNBA traits is that we love the mother factor. We have athletes who are phenomenal, talented women and mothers. This is a great role model for others to see and see that they can achieve the best results. They succeed as mothers at the same time as their professional level.

How is the WNBA’s continued growth and recognition leading to increased sponsorship and advertising spending?

Embed from Getty Images

This season has seen incredible growth in viewership and ticket sales across the WNBA, including merchandise. More and more people are becoming fans of the league and its athletes, and this has caught the attention of corporate America. It is the level of sponsorship that is essential to bring up to

Good example: Here in Las Vegas we have the Michelob Ultra Arena where Aces play. Michelob has issued a statement that it is a brand that has invested heavily in women’s sport and is very concerned about it growing. can be seen growing.

Another very good example is Google. Every time you watch a WNBA broadcast, you’ll see Google’s report of what was most searched for during that broadcast. Before Google invested in and got involved with the WNBA, there were many algorithms that excluded women from the search process. So when you ask, “Who is the greatest basketball player of all time,” you automatically turn to male athletes. Today, a female athlete could actually be shown as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Time Prediction: What do you think is next in Ace’s trajectory?

One of the incredibly exciting things about investing in a team that we’ve seen is that we’re dedicated to seeing what this team can do long-term, so we believe in staying with the team. There is a coach who is there.

He also won Defensive Player of the Year, League MVP and Championship MVP. We are talking about all star players and very young players. Chelsea Gray is the only person to win her WNBA championship before this. Having this experience makes them want to do it again.

Much harder to repeat. But one of the really cool things about him is that Mark Davis came to love women’s basketball through a program at the University of Connecticut. .