For years, Las Vegas sports and Rebels basketball have been synonymous. That may be changing soon, thanks to the determination of Nevadans to bring a professional sports team to our state. Yes a Las Vegas NFL team may soon be a reality.
Although many people in Las Vegas have longed for a professional sports team they can call their own and root for, it did not become a real possibility until January of 2016, when Sheldon Adelson met with Raiders owner Mark Davis to propose Vegas—the largest city in the country without a big league team—as a new home for the Raiders. After the Raiders’ lease expired in Oakland, the team began its hunt for a new home, exploring locations ranging from San Antonio, to Los Angeles suburb Carson, to San Diego. Adelson is determined to put Las Vegas at the top of that list.
Until now, locals have had to satisfy themselves with minor league baseball games and arena football. According to Investopedia, this is surprising, considering that there are nearly two million residents in the metropolitan area, putting it in the same league as cities like Kansas City and Cincinnati, which already have football teams. In the same article, they go on to cite three primary reasons that the major sports leagues have been reticent to make the Valley their home:
- Shift work at casinos and in the hospitality and entertainment industries leave fewer people available to attend Sunday games.
- With so many options, a major sports team would have too many events to compete with for people’s discretionary spending.
- There is potential for innumerable scandals that could bring problems for the players and the league. The NFL has already been plagued by such crises, dealing some serious blows to their brand.
What has changed? It seems that the perfect storm of events and people have come together to make the dream of an NFL team a reality for Las Vegas:
In January of 2016, Mark Davis, the owner of the Raiders, met with Sheldon Adelson, the fourteenth richest person in America—according to Forbes— and president of Las Vegas Sands Corp. to discuss his proposal to build a domed stadium near the Strip.
In May of 2016, Davis expressed his optimism for a move to Las Vegas in an NFL owners meeting.
In June of 2016, the location of the proposed stadium was narrowed down to four potential locations.
In August of 2016, Forbes announced that the Raiders had filed a trademark for the name “Las Vegas Raiders”.
In September of this year, Governor Brian Sandoval received a proposal from the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, asking for $1.9 billion to build 65,000-seat domed stadium. The proposal included a hike in hotel room tax, as the stadium will require $750 million in public money.
In October of 2016, things got serious: The Nevada Senate and Assembly approved financing for a 65,000-set domed stadium in Las Vegas, nine days after Governor Brian Sandoval called a special legislative session to address financing for the stadium. The Bay Area Council told SFGate, “This vote changes nothing. We’re not giving up on keeping the Raiders in the Bay Area.
On October 18, Mark Davis told the other owners of NFL teams that he was more determined than ever to move the team to Las Vegas. He urged the NFL to move forward with the plan; “Las Vegas has already done what it is supposed to do. We just have to present it to the NFL and get the approval to move to Las Vegas.
Mark Davis has received support for his proposal to move to Las Vegas from other NFL owners, including Jerry Jones, of the Dallas Cowboys, and Robert Kraft, of the New England Patriots, who believe that the move would be “good for the NFL”. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed some remaining reservations.
Vegas has been successful in its past hosting experiences, including: the National Finals Rodeo, the USA Sevens—the largest rugby event in the United States, and the Las Vegas Bowl—an NCAA bowl game. In October of 2017, Las Vegas will become the proud home of the Las Vegas NHL team.
The potential impact that professional sports offer the Las Vegas economy is tremendous. The New York Times predicts that major league teams and other developments in the area could make the city less reliant on the gaming industry. Other potential financial benefits include: the jobs created by the construction of a new stadium and in running a stadium, the publicity that a sports team would bring the city on a weekly basis, and the tourism that visiting teams bring. Beyond that, the impact of a sports team on morale and camaraderie would bring a great deal to the Las Vegas Valley, uniting the city in a common purpose: showing the rest of the country that the people of Las Vegas are proud of their city, which has a lot more to offer than gambling. According to Sports Illustrated, if all goes well, Las Vegas will have a professional football team by 2020.