The consequences of what can happen when a Las Vegas casino owns your NBA team

The same people who re-set the norms on Las Vegas now own and operate the Dallas Mavericks.

Mavs fans who want to attend a game at the American Airlines Center should expect to be treated no different than the weekender who stays at the Venetian, or any other Las Vegas Sands (LVS) property.

You’re not a fan. You’re a customer.

The two are inextricably linked, but there is a difference. Mark Cuban had his flaws, but from the moment he bought the Mavericks from Ross Perot Jr. in Jan. of 2000 he always recognized the polarity. So did the Mavs original owner, the late Don Carter.

Because they were both fans, Cuban and Carter were as invested in the outcome of the games, whereas Perot Jr. could not have cared less if the Mavs lost on a Wednesday night to the Hawks. To Perot Jr., the Mavs were real estate in an investment portfolio.

Cuban would never have pulled what the LVS did with the Mavericks, and their fans, this week. In the first of what will be many signs of the ownership change happened this week when season ticket holders, no longer how long they have been with the team, were informed of a massive price increase for next season.

For years and years and years, Cuban kept the Mavericks under the average price of attending an NBA game. He implemented a “loyalty” program for season-ticket holders, and deliberately kept their prices down to reward those fans, and increase his chances of retaining them.

One long time Mavericks season ticket holder, who prefers to remain anonymous, reached out when he was informed the price of his “nose bleed seats” were going up, up and away. Seats that were $18 in 2022-’23 went up to $22 this season. That increase, Cuban said, was as a result of inflation.

With the announcement this week, the $22 ticket will be $30 next season. The price of parking will go up, too. News of increases in other parts of the arena range from 20 percent (believable) to 50 percent (preposterous).

Ticket reps are telling Mavs fans who have called to ask (complain?) about this move is a result of the ownership change. They’re told no.

The sale of the Mavs to LVS was approved by the NBA in the final week of December. This ticket hike price came in the last week of February. You do the math.

Cuban alienated a lot of people in his time as the primary Mavs owner, mostly because he is unafraid to express his political views; he typically made good on his promise to make the team affordable to people who want to support them. He wanted to make people Mavs fans, not just customers.

To combat the eternally frustrating local TV package that many leagues are hostage to, he offered fans a rebate to subscribe to DirecTV so they could watch the games by issuing $50 checks.

For this season, tracked the price of attending an NBA regular season game; the survey included four cheap tickets, parking, two beers, two sodas and four hot dogs. The average in the 30-team NBA is $304.

Note that most of these “studies” about ticket prices are estimates; teams do their best to keep these figures as private as possible.

The Mavs check in at $269, right in the middle of the league. Expect that figure will jump into the top 10, at least.

The owners of the team live out of town, and have no prior relationships with pro sports, which can be the strangest of businesses. They’re in the business of casinos.

They’re interest in this team is that of an appreciating asset, which should allow them a place in the room for a casino license whenever gaming is allowed in Texas. They may want to get to know our Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

One detail about casinos that now applies to the Mavericks, there are no deals any more.

Las Vegas was once a tourist destination where a person, in exchange for their willingness to gamble away money they really didn’t have, everything from drinks to shows to steak dinners were affordable, or free. LVS, and other casino giants, realized people were coming to Vegas with money.

So the “affordable” places have been replaced by $100 steaks, $50 hands of black jack, $400-a-night hotel rooms and $14 for a 12 oz. beer.

LVS is taking the calculated risk that even if they lose a few season ticket holders with this price increase, they will be replaced. No different than the gambler who wants no part of a $50 hand of black jack. Someone else will.

The priority with the new ownership of the Dallas Mavericks will be the board members of LVS, and its stock price. BTW - LVS is trading at $54.85, and went up 2.24 percent this week.