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Las Vegas Set to Have TWO NBA-Ready Arenas?

Yesterday the people who own Harrah's and a good chunk of the Las Vegas strip announced plans to build their own arena just off the strip.

That's a piece of news!

And they say they have had discussions with the NHL and the NBA (but could make it profitable even without a professional sports tenant, thanks to concerts, boxing, and the like).

But what about the existing plan to build an arena downtown with tax subsidies?

That one, according to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman as quoted by the Associated Press, is full steam ahead too.

Goodman said the deal does not slow down city plans for a proposed $9.5 billion sports arena with casino, retail and residential uses on 85 acres downtown, put forth by Michigan-based REI Group LLC.

Any team that wants to locate in Las Vegas could now shop between two large venues for a home, he said.

"With the competition, they're going to be able to get a better deal," Goodman said. "So it's a win-win."

Two arenas that could hold an NBA team in Las Vegas?

These are smart business people making massive financial gambles. You'd have to believe the people paying the bills for all this construction (if both plans really go ahead) believe, based on something, that there's a good chance the NBA is coming to town.

I'm not buying that the NHL, boxing, and concerts support two arenas. Maybe in Las Vegas, but it seems unlikely.

Not to mention, the NBA is obsessed with Las Vegas these days. Between the All-Star game, summer league, and now the FIBA Americas tournament, covering the NBA this year has meant getting to know Las Vegas.

Harrah's will partner with AEG, a subsidiary of the business empire of Colorado tycoon Philip Anschutz. Portland fans will be interested in this little side note: AEG's president and chief executive is Timothy Leiweke, the brother of Tod Leiweke, who is now one of Blazer owner Paul Allen's top lieutenants, and the man who led the search for the Blazers' current president and GM. (No, I'm not suggesting even for one second that the Blazers are moving to Las Vegas.)