A few weeks ago, the Oakland Raiders of the NFL received the approval from a vote from the other NFL owners to move their franchise to Las Vegas. This relocation has been a hot topic that all professional sports want to experiment because they believe there is a serious potential for prosperous times in a city like Las Vegas.
The stadium is projected to cost $1.9 billion according to a report from the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee. The state of Nevada has approved $750 million for the project while the Raider’s owner Mark Davis pledges to contribute $500 million to the construction of the stadium. The Raider’s will have to acquire more money if they hope to build the nearly $2 billion stadium that they plan to. In addition to the cost of the stadium, the projected cost to operate the facility is between $19.2 million and $25.3 million, while the net operating income lies within a wider projected range of $9.3 million to $33.9 million. When you take a step back from these unthinkably enormous numbers, the first thing you say to yourself is: I hope the Raiders will generate more than the projected income or this move to Las Vegas may not be beneficial to the economy or to the franchise.
Supporters of the move to Las Vegas by the Raiders provide the claim that Las Vegas has a reliable source of tourists, and if the city had an NFL team, then more and more tourists would be attached there. Supportive economists state that tourists will plan their trips around NFL games so that when they come to Las Vegas, the Raiders will be in town playing. Also, tourists will spend money on hotel rooms, food, gambling and other services for multiple nights before and possibly after the game. Lastly, the stadium is estimated to host 30-62 events per year between NFL games, UNLV events, concerts, soccer, and motorsports; which provides more opportunity than just the eight home regular season games the Raiders will play for the city of Las Vegas to generate greater income.
The other main problem that lies beneath this relocation is the issue of sports gambling. The Raider’s move to Las Vegas suggests a change in the NFL’s stance on sports gambling, but the words of the league’s top officials differ drastically from its actions. Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, says “I think we still strongly oppose among ownership legalizing sports gambling.” However, the NFL has recently agreed to accept advertising money from online sports gambling websites like FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as having 28 out of its 32 teams sign deals with the same online sports gambling websites worth about $7 million according to research firm IEG. This shift into sports gambling by the NFL gives hope to gamblers in Las Vegas who are licking their chops waiting for the Raider’s to come into town. The only reason Roger Goodell is stating these undesirable messages about sports gambling is because he does not want to affect the integrity of the game. As commissioner, he wants to maintain fair and competitive team play and prevent gambling from affecting the outcomes of what is already the most prosperous professional league in the world in terms of revenue.
Let’s hope the Raider’s move to Las Vegas turns out to be economically beneficial so that billions of dollars aren’t wasted and so that one day we could all experience a special weekend of good food, lots of gambling, and some NFL football in Las Vegas.
By Michael Laffin