Las Vegas has always been linked to the world of sports, but not in the traditional sense. “Sin City” has never been home to a professional sports franchise, but instead has found its way into sports history through other avenues.
Whether it is the Mike Tyson’s mega-fights of the 1990s or Conor McGregor headlining a UFC pay-per-view in 2016, Vegas has long been the home to the biggest bouts in combat sports. Boxing and ultimate fighting have helped Las Vegas etch its spot into sports history forever.
Now, professional franchises are reaching out to Las Vegas.
The National Hockey League made the first move by being the first of the major four leagues in America to announce an expansion franchise for Las Vegas. The franchise is scheduled to officially join the league to start the 2017-2018 NHL season.
The NBA has long discussed giving an expansion team to Las Vegas, and even held “trial-run” types of events like All-Star Weekend back in 2007 to test the market. However, the league that looks most likely to give a team a home in Vegas in the near future is the NFL. The NFL’s move into the City of Lights could come as soon as next season.
The franchise that looks to be on the move is the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders franchise moving to Las Vegas would be a great move for the NFL. It is one that was discussed prior to this season, and was thought to be another big announcement to coincide with the Rams moving back to Los Angeles. However, that plan was halted, and the Raiders were set to remain in Oakland for at least one more year.
Now, the team is 5-2 and tied for first in the AFC West. The future finally looks bright for The Black Hole and their team that has been abysmal for over a decade. The days of Rich Gannon, Tim Brown and Super Bowl hopes are long gone, but there is finally something to look forward to for the Raiders franchise. They seem to have found themselves a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr, a stud receiver in Amari Cooper and an elite pass rusher in Khalil Mack on the defensive side of the ball.
All in all, this means that this is the perfect time for the Raiders to move. Why? Because there are finally eyes on them.
There is finally a reason to watch the Raiders again. The Raiders would have struggled to grab a solid fan base in Vegas if they were still struggling to win five games in a season, but now they are a top-10 team in the NFL. They have players that people want to see, and a great head coach in Jack Del Rio running the show. Moving the Raiders to Vegas now is perfect timing. They will be sold as a legitimate attraction in Las Vegas, something that may be hard to do if they were nothing more than a side show, low-level football team.
Of course the fans would not be too happy about this move.
The Raiders have some of the most passionate fans in all of sports. The Black Hole is one of the most intimidating fanbases on Sundays, dressing in black and silver paint, and covered in skulls. If there is any reason for the Raiders to halt their move it is because of the backlash from the fan base (and trust me there will be plenty of it). Realistically though, it is only about a nine-hour drive, or an hour and a half long flight from Oakland to Las Vegas. That is not enough to stop Raiders die-hards from flocking to Vegas on Sundays if they move.
Quite frankly, it will be a good money move for the NFL also if they move the Raiders to Vegas.
It may sound odd, but attending a Raiders game will have the potential to bring in fans from all over. People already flock to Vegas to gamble their life savings away, but now they will also have the added incentive of being able to see a professional football game, especially if their favorite team happened to be playing them that week.
A team in Las Vegas will likely bring more traveling fans to the games because of the high level of attraction that Las Vegas already has. Football is the number one sport in America right now; nothing will solidify Las Vegas as a serious sports city more than moving one of its most recognizable franchises to a home in Sin City.