Even since joining ESPN as a sideline reporter in 2017, Las Vegas native Stormy Buonantony has watched her hometown’s sports landscape evolve in ways she never imagined.
In rapid fashion, the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights, NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces transformed from local sports fans’ pipe dreams to realities; the Golden Knights and Aces brought home titles. The Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship has become a global phenomenon.
From Saturday to Wednesday, Sin City is home to major events showcasing these sports entities on ESPN platforms (see sidebar below).
Buonantony, who will be reporting from Birmingham, Ala., from the South Florida-UAB football game Saturday (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2), marvels that her hometown is home to these spectacles and more.
Growing up in nearby Summerlin, Nev., as the daughter of former St. Louis Cardinals system pitcher Rich Buonantony and gymnast Cheri Shipp, she became a huge sports fan. But even she had her doubts that Las Vegas would become home to not only major league sports franchises but champions (the NHL’s Golden Knights, the WNBA’s Aces) as well.
“Surreal. I think about it all the time, to be honest,” said the 2014 San Diego State grad, who also covers the XFL for ESPN. “This is a community that was told for so long sports couldn’t work here – I fully believed if I wanted to work in sports, I couldn’t do it here.”
Not only is there this convergence of major events in the coming days on ESPN platforms, but “in just a few months, the same city will also host Formula 1 [in November on ESPN] and a Super Bowl, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”
Before joining fellow commentators Beth Mowins and Kirk Morrison in Alabama for her college football assignment, she answered a few questions for Front Row.
Between your ESPN and VSIN, The Sports Betting Network, assignments, what’s a typical week like for you?
I host a 2-hour daily show on VSIN called “The Lombardi Line” with former NFL GM Michael Lombardi. My week revolves around prepping my show, which is primarily NFL-focused, and for my ESPN college games. I’m constantly reading, watching tape, and on calls with coaches and players as well as betting analysts and oddsmakers. I also recently got married in August, so I’m very fortunate to have an understanding significant other this time of year!
From 2019-21, you covered the Golden Knights as a rink-side sideline reporter. What’s your most cherished memory from that time? Where will you be during the Stanley Cup banner raising on Tuesday on ESPN?
While I had a front-row seat to some great on-ice moments, my most cherished memories are off the ice: things like future HOFer [goalie] Marc Andre Fleury pranking me like I was part of the team or being the first person to interview [winger] Mark Stone after he was named the first captain in franchise history! As for the banner raising, I’ll be watching from home. I was in the building for Game 5 as a fan when they won the  Cup, though, and I’m not sure anything can compare to that!
Game Day with a chance of snow showers 🌨 pic.twitter.com/rDJu8yifw3
— Stormy Buonantony (@StormBuonantony) January 22, 2021
What’s been your favorite ESPN assignment thus far?
I’ve had a lot of great games and unexpected upsets in my time with ESPN, but my favorite assignment is probably doing ESPN Radio sideline coverage for the 2023 Sugar Bowl. It was my first New Year’s Six bowl game, and I got to share some great stories about Bryce Young and Will Anderson in what ended up being their last game at Alabama before going Nos. 1 and 3 overall in the NFL Draft.