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Laimbeer excited for chance to build Las Vegas franchise

first_img“I’m looking at a huge task in front of me,” Laimbeer said. “First I have to build a staff from everything from video coordinator and interns to my assistants to basketball ops people. I’ve been making lists and lists and lists.”His task is a little easier than other startup franchises because MGM has been in the entertainment business for years.“I think it’s new to them. They understand arenas, they understand all that goes into the logistics and selling tickets,” Laimbeer said. “The basketball part they are into, but it’s not something they’ve really done before. I have the experience that I can navigate and explain what this is and how it works and what the opportunities are. I know all the infrastructure and the how-to. My job is to set everything up.”Finding those people won’t be so hard, as Laimbeer said his phone has been ringing nonstop since it was announced that he took the job.MGM will not be the first company with casino holdings to own a WNBA team. The Mohegan Sun owns the team in Connecticut. The blueprint for Nevada is somewhat similar.ADVERTISEMENT Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’ Jo Koy: My brain always wants to think funny Kiefer Ravena ‘very excited’ to play for Guiao at NLEX Coco’s house rules on ‘Probinsyano’ set The 60-year-old Laimbeer could stay with New York as the team’s general manager or find employment elsewhere.His decision was made a bit easier when his phone rang a few weeks ago. An executive at MGM Resorts International asked him to be the coach and president of the new WNBA team that was moving from San Antonio to Las Vegas.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’SPORTSFederer blasts lack of communication on Australian Open smog“I said I’d talk to my wife,” Laimbeer said. “At the end of the day, I like challenge and I think this would be a great experience.”Laimbeer accepted the new position, which he will start Nov. 1. In this Aug. 29, 2015, file photo, New York Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer watches during the team’s WNBA basketball game against the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn. AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)NEW YORK — Bill Laimbeer found himself at a crossroad.His contract with the New York Liberty was up and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to stay or move on. He had spent the last few years grooming Katie Smith to be the team’s next head coach and felt the time was right for her to take over the team, which lost in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.ADVERTISEMENT Kiss-and-tell matinee idol’s conquests: True stories or tall tales? “While other teams are restocking their cupboards, we have to order things from scratch like basketballs, athletic tape, nearly everything,” Laimbeer said.This will be the first professional basketball team in Las Vegas, which has become a coveted target for sports franchises over the past few years.The expansion Vegas Golden Knights began their first NHL season this month. In March, the NFL formally approved the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas by the 2020 season to occupy a proposed new stadium on the Las Vegas Strip, although the deal wasn’t approved until casino mogul Sheldon Adelson pulled out of the financing plan.The Golden Knights play at MGM’s T-Mobile Arena, but the casino doesn’t own the team.“This is the first pro sports team that MGM resorts owns and it’s a great alignment frankly with the DNA of our company,” said Lilian Tomovich, MGM’s chief experience and marketing officer.Laimbeer inherits a team that finished last for the second straight year. San Antonio has a talented young nucleus with Kayla McBride, Moriah Jefferson and Kelsey Plum. The team also has the top chance to get the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.“They need a change of culture,” Laimbeer said. “Any time you get a team that’s beat down record-wise, you have to have a catalyst for a change. This is a tremendous catalyst. Going to an exciting venue and situation where there’s resources. I have been successful creating a team that can compete. We can break out of this thing.”Laimbeer also thinks being in Las Vegas will be attractive to free agents.“Players will want to come here,” he said. “All the signs point to a great opportunity. We have to pick up the pieces and make it happen.”This is the second move for the franchise. It came to San Antonio from Utah in 2003. Led by Becky Hammon, the Stars reached the WNBA Finals in 2008. The team has finished with the league’s worst record each of the past three seasons. LATEST STORIES Coco’s house rules on ‘Probinsyano’ setcenter_img Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 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Brooklyn Park, Sister City Kakata, Cultivate Connection

first_imgMinnesota may be known for the Twin Cities, but municipalities in the state also have more than 40 “sister cities” around the world. Brooklyn Park has gone the extra 5,500 miles to connect with its sister, Kakata, Liberia, sending officials there in March 2012 as part of its effort to bolster good relations with its own Liberian population.“Sister Cities is meaningful because we believe we have 5,000 to 6,000 Liberians in Brooklyn Park,“ Mayor Jeffrey Lunde said. Going to Liberia was a step toward elevating engagement with that community, he said. It “proved we were serious.”Brooklyn Park has one of the largest concentrations of Liberians outside the Republic of Liberia. The community accounts for about 10 percent of Brooklyn Park’s population, according to the city. Some of those residents fled from Kakata as refugees of the Liberian civil war and still have family in the African country, Lunde said. “The connection is very powerful.”The Sister Cities program, founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, promotes such connections by pairing U.S. and other cities around the world; the goal is to foster cross-cultural understanding and peaceful relationships. Brooklyn Park and Kakata became official “sisters” in July 2012 after delegations from each city had visited the other.A good startThe March 2012 trip to Kakata was “a goodwill kind of experience to learn about the country,” said Robin Martinson, community liaison officer with the Brooklyn Park Police Department. “Ever since we’ve been in Liberia, I think the community feels appreciated. [They] feel that we understand them better.”We’ve “seen that a gap has been bridged,” said Liberian Pastor Alexander Collins, CEO and president of New Horizons Resource Group. The nonprofit helped with the sister cities’ relationship, envisioning it as a way to bring the Liberian community and Brooklyn Park closer together. Collins said that since the trip he has seen his community become actively supportive of the sister city relationship and increasingly involved in Brooklyn Park. There’s a “sense of belonging here,” he said.Martinson said that “one great thing about the [2012] trip … you get to see things.” She explained that people were getting in trouble in Brooklyn Park for things that wouldn’t be considered a problem in Liberia, for example, like cramming people into cars for efficiency, a habit she observed while in Kakata.The right foundationEven before the sister city relationship, Brooklyn Park was trying to set the bar for outreach to its foreign-born community through its police department’s liaison program. The program launched in 2005 and has since received recognition from police departments internationally, Martinson said. “We know as a police force we can’t do anything without the community,” she said.Brooklyn Park also provides services for its foreign-born population through its New Americans Academy, which offers a once-per-month “new arrivals” class to help immigrants transition to the community, and through its Community Engagement Initiative Diversity Team.Also crucial to the city’s relationship with the Liberians in its community and with those in Kakata is the Liberian Ministers Association. “They help with the community here and back home,” Lunde said. “What we’ve given to them, they returned to us tenfold over,” he said.An equal exchangeCollins, of the New Horizon Resource Group, said the sister city relationship is not just one that exists on paper. The trip was part of a greater desire to see something visible happen in Liberia as part of a mutually beneficial effort, he said.Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Kenneth Prillaman has made several trips to Kakata to help the Liberian National Fire Service create an effective firefighting system. Brooklyn Park is also working with the Booker T. Washington Institute in Kakata, which has branches all over Liberia, to rebuild and to develop its curriculum. The cities are also looking at setting up an exchange program with the institute and some of Brooklyn Park’s community colleges, Lunde said.The cities plan to continue exchanging delegations in the future to promote learning and collaboration, according to the Brooklyn Park’s November 2013 sister city resolution.Liberians “know so much about America,” Martinson said, but unfortunately we don’t know as much about them. “[That’s] changing as people get to know more about each other.“I’ve learned … to take time to care and listen,” she said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more