Remember I told you there was a squeak about town that they (MGM) might bring an ice hockey franchise to town to anchor the new T Mobile arena. Prior to that there seemed to be an unwritten rule that no major sports franchise was welcome in Vegas because of legalised gambling. The tide seems to be turning.
Las Vegas Sands (the Venetian / Palazzo) recently announced speculative plans for a domed stadium on 42 acres near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to be the $1.2 billion new home for the UNLV football team. The planned 65,000-seat stadium would require public funding and private investment. It might also however house a National Football League franchise. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis met with Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson to discuss the proposed stadium on Friday 29th January 2016.
According to Las Vegas Sands’ presentation, the domed stadium would open in 2020 if construction were to begin in 2017 and that the company is moving forward with the stadium concept with or without an NFL team. Spokesman Andy Abboud also said “We see a lot more opportunities — conference championships, bowl games, NFL exhibition football, boxing, soccer, neutral site games, and music festivals. There is an entire segment out there.”
The project, so far only a concept, involves Los Angeles-based Majestic Realty Co. and UNLV, which bought 42 vacant acres along Tropicana Avenue east of Koval Lane earlier in January. UNLV wants to move its football program from the aging Sam Boyd Stadium in the east valley to a new facility closer to campus.
That’s one thing but the powers that be in the NFL have acted very promptly following the meeting. The NFL immediately sent a memo to all of its 32 franchises that said the league has no rule against moving to any particular market. The memo specifically addressed talk of Las Vegas as a possible destination for an NFL team and addressed Davis’ tour of the proposed stadium site on Tropicana Avenue. The memo also tells the teams there are no preconceived rules regarding relocation and that teams were not to assume that a move to Las Vegas would be vetoed by the league. It said the NFL, which needs 24 yes votes by owners to move a franchise, would take Las Vegas as seriously as any other prospective home for relocation.
Davis’ lease with O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California, ends February 2016, and he has been seeking a new home. He had applied to the NFL for relocation of the team to Los Angeles but his bid was rejected when owner Stan Kroenke was finally allowed to move his Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
Kroenke is to build a privately funded stadium in the Inglewood suburb. The Chargers were given a one-year option of joining the Rams in the new stadium, while the Raiders would be the second option if the Chargers declined a move to Los Angeles by January 2017. Chargers’ chairman Dean Spanos announced the team had agreed to the structure of a future deal to play in the Los Angeles stadium, which is expected to open in 2019. But he said he would take the next 12 months to negotiate a deal for a new stadium in San Diego and that the team would play there for at least the 2016 season.
The NFL, which offered the Chargers and Raiders $100 million each to help build new stadiums in their original markets, on Friday said the Chargers can use an additional $200 million construction loan from the league toward a new stadium. Davis reportedly is negotiating a one-year lease for O.co Coliseum for 2016. He also has talked to San Antonio officials about a possible move.
So, nothing remotely signed, sealed or delivered but the NFL have certainly laid the way for something that, until recently, seemed exceedingly unlikely.