For years, the city of Las Vegas has worked to build an off-the-strip stadium for UNLV football that could also host major events, concerts and the like. Here's a rendering we first posted back in January of 2013.
On Thursday the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee will meet to discuss the $1.3 billion, 65,000-seat stadium, and the group now has extra incentive to push the proposal through: the NFL.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis will attend the meeting to assure the group his team will move to Las Vegas should the stadium receive approval later this year. "Davis is absolutely serious about targeting Las Vegas as the future home for his franchise, and sees the growing city as the ideal landing spot for the Raiders both locally and regionally," the paper writes.
Pro sports leagues have been reticent to locate franchises in America's sports gambling hub, but the Daily News reports Davis would have backing of the league's ownership to move to Las Vegas. The Rams, Chargers, 49ers, Cowboys and Texans would be especially enthusiastic to ship the Raiders off to the desert. The Raiders were given first dibs in January to negotiate with the Rams to join them in Los Angeles; a Las Vegas move would (obviously) take LA off the table for the silver and black, opening the possibility of the Rams getting the nation's No. 2 market all to themselves while at the same time giving the Chargers the option of moving to Los Angeles or using that threat to get their new stadium deal done in San Diego.
On top of that, a move to Las Vegas would allow the Niners to have the Bay Area all to themselves while simultaneously keeping them out of San Antonio, pleasing both Texas franchises.
The Raiders would just need 18 of the 26 remaining owners to approve the move to start packing their bags.
And there is incentive to see the Las Vegas Raiders come to life outside of the league's Western conclave. New stadiums in Las Vegas and San Diego (should that deal get done), plus Stan Kronke's football shrine in Los Angeles, would give the league three prime destinations for future Super Bowls, and putting the Raiders in Vegas while keeping the Chargers in San Diego gives The Shield leverage in every other city that needs a new stadium.
From a branding standpoint, the marriage could not be better. The outlaw franchise of America's favorite sport putting down stakes in Sin City is enough to get the Darren Rovells of the world in a tizzy. And for the nerds in the audience, it allows the Raiders to find a new home without tinkering with the league's (mostly) geographically sound divisional structure. (Remember when the Atlanta Falcons were in the NFC West and the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC East?)
“I think it would be a mistake to just write Las Vegas off. It’s all predicated on getting the financing in order, but if they do, considering the Raiders brand and how well it could play in Las Vegas and all the various other dots that can be connected, the Raiders would have a very compelling argument to make," a league source told the LADN at the NFL's team meetings earlier this spring.
The Raiders and Las Vegas are a match made in heaven -- or hell, as it were. Here's hoping it happens.