SALT LAKE CITY — So long, Florida humidity. Hello, Nevada heat. Breaking tradition, the Utah Jazz will participate in the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League this July.
The Jazz had been going to the Orlando Pro Summer League since the Rocky Mountain Revue stopped functioning in 2008, in large part because of how the Vegas event led to the demise of Utah’s annual hoops showcase.
“Having our training camp in Orlando was difficult for us and we felt it was time to move forward,” Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which first reported the switch. “We feel there’s a natural tie-in with Las Vegas and it’ll be great for our fans to follow us (and) be able to see our young players. We’re very excited about the move.”
Lindsey told the Deseret News several factors played into the organization’s decision to join a total of 24 teams in the 11-day Las Vegas tournament.
Logistics are the leading reason.
“It's a lot easier to get to Vegas than it is the East Coast,” Lindsey said.
That goes for the Jazz and for their fans. Only team personnel, NBA officials and media were allowed to attend summer league games in Orlando, but the Las Vegas action is open to the public.
And the Jazz and the Las Vegas organizers are hoping for a good showing by Utah faithful when doors open on July 11.
“We have fans in Vegas,” Lindsey said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some fans coming down from Salt Lake and St. George and everywhere in between that will be able to see our guys play.”
Not only is it costly to send a large summer league team and team personnel to central Florida for more than a week, but it also limited what the Jazz could do leading up to the games.
The Jazz are planning on holding a training camp at their practice facility for four or five days before heading down to Sin City.
“I think we can have a better camp,” Lindsey said. “I think it’s safer for our players doing it in our practice facility.”
Lindsey also mentioned an open practice and an autograph session being possibilities.
“We want to engage the fans in some type of summer activity,” the Jazz GM said.
With Vegas’ proximity, there could also be tie-ins with corporate sponsors and season ticket holders.
Warren LeGarie, the Vegas league founder, said his staff believed “Utah needed to be included” in its NBA-backed extravaganza.
“Las Vegas has always supported the Jazz. I think it was just a matter of being persistent and persistency won out,” LeGarie told the Review-Journal. “It’s going to be great for the fans in Utah to make the drive over to Vegas and watch the new players they bring in and the young players they already have. We expect it’s going to boost attendance a lot.”
As for the Rocky Mountain Revue, which ran from 1984 through 2008 at sites such as Westminster College, East High School, the Delta Center and SLCC, the Jazz have broached the NBA about several proposals to recreate the summer league in some form in the future.
“We haven’t given up that hope,” Lindsey said. “There’s a ways away from us reaching any of that.”