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A Sure Bet: The Economic Impact of Oakland Raiders’ Move to Vegas

19 Apr, 2017

By: Michael Popke

With NFL owners recently voting, 31-1, in favor of the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas as soon as 2019, Sin City — now more than ever ­­— could be synonymous with Ka-Ching City. (Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was the lone dissenter.)

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, Southern Nevada will be guaranteed eight NFL games per year, as well as potential Super Bowls, Pro Bowls and NFL Drafts — and maybe even a Final Four, like University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., located four-and-a-half hours southeast of Las Vegas. On top of that, the yet-to-be-built $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium no doubt will attract concerts and other high-profile events that bring visitors to Vegas, who then will stick around to take in some of the city’s other attractions.

The key word here is “potential,” says Tom Sadler, president and CEO of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority. “They are not automatic awards just because a stadium is built,” he told the paper. “It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be in the rotation. You have to compete with other cities and other states that are very formidable. Geographically, Los Angeles will also be competing now with their stadium. All three cities [Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix] have the nice weather, but it still comes down to which city puts up the best bid.”

According to the Review-Journal:

Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee projections show the stadium is expected to cost between $19.2 million and $25.3 million to operate, with net operating income between $9.3 million and $33.9 million.

For years, economists have argued over the pros and cons of new stadiums built in the name of economic development. The few number of NFL games that bring people to the stadiums makes them less useful than a new manufacturing plant or shopping center. …

The stadium is expected to host between 30 and 62 events a year, which will come from the likes of [the University of Nevada-Las Vegas], concerts, soccer and motorsports, according to projections.

What also separates Las Vegas from other stadium cities … is a reliable base of tourists.

For years, major professional sports leagues avoided Las Vegas, according to The New York Times, amid fears that players and officials would “rub elbows with unsavory characters from the gambling world trying to influence games.” That’s no longer a perceived threat, and the city as a whole has reduced its reliance on casino revenues. In fact, poker rooms at many hotels are now smaller or don’t even exist anymore.

A Las Vegas NHL franchise, the Golden Knights, will begin play this year, and there also is talk of the NBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer locating teams to the city.

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