Let’s look at the real possibilities of a Las Vegas Raiders team and talk about that Proposition bet which Bookmaker reportedly had up for public consumption about a potential move to Las Vegas.
Two Bodies of Thought About NFL, Pro Sports Franchises Coming to Las Vegas
Some of the more prominent and well-connected people in Las Vegas have been gung-ho and all systems go toward getting a professional sports franchise to Sin City over the years and building a stadium has often been the perceived starting point bandied around in the media and by the most of us hoi polloi. Work on the 17,500-seat, $275 million MGM-AEG Arena just off The Strip is nearing completion and this potential home for a future NHL franchise is one of the first steps to landing a team and billionaire businessman Bill Foley has offered to pony up the expected $500 million franchise fee to the league but the NHL’s executive committee remains cautious and decisions on teams for Las Vegas and Quebec City seem to be a couple of months away. So the Las Vegas metropolitan area—the 30th largest market in the US—has the stadium and the core of a fair-sized fan base for an NHL team but whether or not the city-town can sustain a professional sports team and consistently put 10,000+ bodies in seats for every Home game—even with tourists attending—remains to be seen. The fervor and the hype and certainly there but we needn’t drive too far down US Route 93 to see how hockey has played in the Desert. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the 10-man executive committee might not want to jump so fast after recent experiences with expansion and revenue-sharing may also be a potential issue with other current team owners content with a 28-piece pie.
And whereas an NHL (or MLS) team eventually coming to Las Vegas somewhere down the line seems like a possibility, seeing a Las Vegas Raiders or other Sin City franchise in the near future seems like a pipe dream despite the Heavy Hitters on board for this idea. When Raiders owner Davis visited on Jan. 29 to scope out the proposed 42-acre site of a proposed new $1.2 billion stadium near UNLV to house this supposed NFL team, he reportedly met with casino owners Sheldon Adelson—who said he would fund the bulk of the project—Steve Wynn and Lorenzo Fertita and former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman absolutely loves the idea and legendary bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro also thinks it’s a possibility.
But the Raiders and Mark Davis—son of the late Al Davis—are in a position where getting some leverage to try to get a new stadium built in the Bay Area also makes sense as Sin City is (sort of) known for its whoring (although prostitution is actually illegal in Clark County) and the lease on the O.co Coliseum was ending in January. This past week—less than four weeks of having a bid to move the Raiders to Los Angeles snuffed—the Raiders franchise signed a one-year lease extension at O.co Coliseum with two one-year options to stay through the 2017 and 2018 NFL seasons. “It gives us the opportunity to work on a permanent facility here in Oakland,” Davis said after the deal with the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority was done, which sound like the words of a man who wanted to stay right where he was all along. So this wouldn’t be the first time Las Vegas and the thought (threat) of moving a city’s sports team to Las Vegas would be used as leverage of sorts. We still have no professional teams here. And almost 30 years ago in 1987, Irwindale, California gave Al Davis a $10 million check as plans to turn a pit north of the Foothill Freeway into a wonderful $115 million stadium for the Raiders (50/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) and that never materialized, so, buyer beware. Irwindale not only lost the initial $10 million but also a reported $7 million for legal fees, an environmental impact study and other miscellaneous costs and around $3 million more it could have made in interest on that money. And all those financial losses and Hopes pirated and not even a stadium was built nor a game played. Hype never dies.
A Proposition Bet on the Raiders Franchise Moving to Las Vegas in the Future?
The story that San José, Costa Rican sportsbook Bookmaker was offering a Proposition bet on the Raiders coming to Las Vegas got some nice press and Radio time and the “Will the NFL Have a Team in Vegas by 2018?” Prop with the “Yes” priced at +190 on the NFL odds board and the “No” at -250 probably drew so much quick “No” action the sportsbook decide to yank it as it’s nowhere to be found now on the Futures Book menu of the company’s website as maybe all the possible one-way action and cynicism made the bookmaker decide to pull down the creative NFL pick. It does seem a major new stadium will be built with Las Vegas Sands Senior VP of Government Relations and Community Development Andy Abboud saying his group is moving forward with their stadium, NFL franchise or not. A stadium of that size in somewhat compact Las Vegas would probably take between 3-4 years to complete and with the Rams already leaving St. Louis for Los Angeles and the Chargers (50/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) looking like they will be doing the exact same thing (leaving for Los Angeles) with San Diego unlikely to vote to subsidize a new $1.2 billion stadium later this week. So, we’ll likely have the Los Angeles Rams (50/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), the Los Angeles Chargers and the Oakland Raiders without legendary CB Charles Woodson. Better turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes.
Despite all the wishes of the Rich and Powerful, Las Vegas is ill-equipped to get an NFL franchise right now anyway. Growth of the city stopped around a decade ago and many empty projects still litter world-famous (The) Strip like massive metal trees which never had, and will never have Birds living in their branches. The Fontainebleau is a perfect example of reality not meeting the level of Hype and Expectations. A body can only carry so much muscle. The Sin City metropolitan area has a couple of well-to-do suburban enclaves, but for the most part, the city—which recently had to have Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval sign an emergency piece of legislation to provide more immediate provisional teaching licenses in the county (CCSD School District)—is primarily made up of lower- to middle-class working people who are just trying to survive day-to-day and a $100-200+ a game NHL or NFL ticket/parking/time team obligation may be asking too much, even in this day and age and this perceived decent economy. Las Vegas could probably pack 6,000 to a maximum of 10,000 into an arena over an 82-game NHL season (41 Home dates) but consistently getting 15,000 to 20,000 bodies seems like wishful thinking. Now in a 17-game NFL Regular Season schedule with just 8 Home games and demand for those limited games much higher, an NFL team—with tourists attending the games—might be able to eventually thrive and redefine this still smallish Neon-tinted market. But with the reputation and stigma Las Vegas has as a gambling town and nobody having come to the Mojave Desert yet to see if the experiment works, it still seems at least two to five years away (at least) for a major professional sports team in Las Vegas. And logic says that it’s probably an NHL or MLS franchise that does eventually come and not an NFL one, despite the potential big demand which could be created for those 8 Home games in Sin City as the relationship between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Las Vegas has been less than amourous through recent years.
WHERE THE RAIDERS WILL END UP PLAYING IN THE FUTURE PICK: (Staying in) Oakland