With the San Diego Chargers seemingly heading towards a move up north to join the Los Angeles Rams, the Oakland Raiders continue to face an uncertain future.
Owner Mark Davis has shown an interest in possibly moving to Las Vegas. That interest remains intact.
“Mark Davis has been to Las Vegas a half-dozen times the last six or eight weeks,” said Las Vegas Sands Corp. senior vice president Ron Reese, via A.J. Perez, USA Today. “The Raiders are serious about it.”
If Davis is repeatedly visiting Sin City, it only stands to reason that he is serious. Remember, he had previously visited with the Las Vegas Committee on Relocation back in April (more on that here).
While it wouldn’t be uncommon for a team to use a city without a team as a way to manipulate a better situation with its current city, Vegas doesn’t really fit the typical description of an “ultimatum” city.
It has never had a pro sports team — NFL or otherwise. Also, unlike other cities, the nature of Las Vegas makes it one that some owners will naturally have issues with.
Will enough owners object? That remains to be seen, but rejecting Sin City shouldn’t be done hastily. Vegas has many features that the NFL should find desirable.
Some high-profile owners have even come out in support of the idea of a team relocating to the desert metropolis (more on that here).
And for good reason.
At just over two-million people, Las Vegas has the 29th largest metropolitan population in the country. That is slightly larger than Kansas City, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Nashville.
It is significantly larger than Jacksonville and Green Bay. All of those markets have an NFL team. Additionally, Sin City is loaded with tourists every day of the year. So while the metro area may be two million, the number of people in the city at given time is much higher.
On top of that, since it’s in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas has ample space. If someone is interested in building a stadium, there is plenty of space to build one with ample parking. At worst, it would be on par with the gem of a stadium that the Arizona Cardinals built in Glendale.
The project Raiders owner Mark Davis and Co. are considering teams the organization up with Sheldon Adelson — a major mover and shaker in the casino industry and the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
The mayor of Las Vegas as well as the president of UNLV have also thrown their support behind the project.
The two main issues would be getting a stadium built and getting the owners to approve. Given the perpetually uncertain (and poor) stadium situation in Oakland, it seems likely that the NFL owners would jump at a chance to get the Raiders a new home.
On top of all of that, the NFL’s divisions wouldn’t need to be re-aligned. The Raiders could easily stay in the AFC West and maintain all rivalries.
For Oakland, this all means that if it wants to keep the Raiders, the city will need to get going pronto. Otherwise, we should all get used to saying “Las Vegas Raiders.”