Rumours continue to build around the Las Vegas question in the NFL. Are the bright lights of this jewel in the desert ready for football? Could it host the Super Bowl? Could it host a team? Is Nevada ready to become the newest state to have a say in the way the NFL is run? The NFL Spring League meeting took place recently, gathering the heads of the NFL, and owners to discuss the bidding processes for the upcoming Super Bowls. Amongst the discussions taking place, Mark Davis – Owner of the Raiders – was discussing the City of Las Vegas, and how it could be involved in the future of the team, and the NFL in general. Davis was recently in Nevada, meeting with officials to discuss options for constructing a stadium in Las Vegas for the Raiders Franchise. Davis has offered $500M, with the Las Vegas Sands/Majestic Realty group showing interest in the development, and City officials citing room tax as a potential source of revenue to fund the venture (in a similar fashion to the San Diego proposal that the Chargers have put in place). The NFL has previously had a strong stance in opposition to involving the NFL with Vegas. Mainly due to the gambling laws causing potential conflict for a team based out of one of the only cities in the country where betting on the outcome of sports is legal, but with the rise of online gambling and the blurring of lines, the stance has softened. With this in mind, we’re going to take a look at the Pros and Cons of Las Vegas as a home, to any franchise.
The City of Las Vegas sits in a vast swathe of desert in the heart of Nevada, with land in the centre of the city at a premium, especially on the central strip. However, land on the outskirts of the city is vastly cheaper, and there are lots of very large realty groups that spend all of their time speculating on ways to grow the city, and increase the value of the land that they can control. If a facility were to be built in Vegas, you can guarantee that it would be one of the most sprawling, over the top developments that the NFL has ever seen. It’d make previous developments look like drive-thru restaurants in comparison. You’re looking at full stadiums with massive capacity levels, capable of hosting shows, and supporting other visiting sports. You can guarantee that there will be conference functionality added in, and at least one practice field, as well as state of the art training facilities in house. Vegas doesn’t do things in inches, and you can put money on this being one of the most impressive developments that the NFL has ever seen.
The City of Vegas brings in over 800,000 visitors a week. That’s both domestic and foreign tourism, all interested in some way in sports or gambling. The Super Bowl alone draws 300,000 visitors into the city, and the game has never been played there! Having an international standard facility in the city would capitalise on this incredible amount of people travelling to the city to let loose and enjoy themselves. Football could become an integral part of the package that draws people to the city, especially during the lower levels of visitors that occur in the winter months – Football season itself!
The City of Las Vegas is set up for tourism, and the level of connections that go into that city from international and internal flights mean that people travelling into the city can reach it with almost no effort. Movement in and around Vegas is fast, efficient and designed with high capacity and transient movement in mind. Travel to and from a spot in Vegas is normally easy and hassle free.
The City has been designed with expansion in mind, and has been set up to withstand incredible numbers of visitors to the city. Public transport, local government, sanitation, highways. All of these things are designed to handle a populace that far outstrips the cities actual needs, and with expansion always on the horizon, this is something that is constantly being reviewed and updated.
Home Crowd – Community support
The City of Las Vegas only hosts 2M local citizens. The people of this city are outnumbered annually by visitors by 21-1. With the need to fill the stadium week in and week out, the city would need to woo the visitors, but this could risk alienating the locals, which is a massively important thing in the NFL. Local investment and cultural development are bywords for the NFL, and every team has local outreach programs for local community enrichment. Las Vegas is one of the cities in most dire need of these kinds of programs, but if the focus is on bringing in the tourists, this could be something that the team may struggle to get off of the ground.
The City of Las Vegas has an incredibly high crime rate, with violent altercations, and drug related misdemeanours being the most prevalent criminal charges in the area. There are still highly active criminal elements operating within the city, and these groups will look at the NFL as an opportunity to expand their influence. Protecting the organisation, and its players from this sort of element will be harder than in a lot of cities, due to the gambling element. The team and the NFL itself would need to work really hard on their on-boarding for College players to avoid the exact scenarios that have denied the city a presence in the game for so long.
Nevada is hot. It is a desert. Las Vegas is in this desert. It is also hot. See Arizona.
Distractions for players
Showgirls! Gambling! Matinees! Cabaret! Gambling! Crack Dens! Vegas has everything that a young, wealthy, easily influenced individual can dip their toe into. Players get in enough trouble in most cities, but a place like Vegas is designed to swallow you up and spit you out if you’re not on the tightest of leashes. The “what happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” attitude has been developed by hyped up, reckless young people travelling to this city for short stints. Just imagine what it could do to somebody not prepared that spends the best part of the year in the area. Focus is vital in this game, and a franchise like the Raiders need to have the most focused players in the game if they want to stand a real chance at recapturing the glory days that they have been chasing for the best part of two decades. In conclusion, this city has a lot to offer the NFL with regards to income and opportunities, but the old concerns lurk in the shadows, and this is something that the owners will have to take into account if they are seriously thinking about setting up shop in the bright lights of Las Vegas.