On January 15th, the Oakland Raiders will finally learn if they will be changing their name to the Las Vegas Raiders. Owners from around the league will meet in Houston to vote on whether or not the team will have the ability to move cities. Over the last few months, owner Mark Davis has snapped the ball and made the pitch to move his beloved black and silver to Sin City. He has successfully convinced Nevada and its legislature to pass a hotel tax that puts $750 million towards the construction of a new stadium, ultimately giving the Raiders an extra incentive to leave Oakland.
As the plan, and means are set in place for the team to transition, there are a few issues that are resonating with fans in both cities. In Oakland the pitch is to keep the team where the market is larger and more established, while in Las Vegas many residents are concerned about the use of public funds being put toward the construction of a stadium.
Oakland desperately wants to keep its home town team, and their main strategy to persuade NFL owners to vote against the exit of the Raiders is the market. The Bay Area has a population estimated around 8.7 million, completely smothering the Las Vegas metro area population of 2.1 million. One thing that should be considered is the regional spread of the market for the two locations discussed. The Bay Area is split between two teams, where the San Francisco 49ers are said to have a following three times larger than Oakland. Another market coming into play this year that is sure to suck in fans living in California, comes by the way of the Rams now located in Los Angeles. The Las Vegas market has a tremendous amount of potential. It is a town that has its own unique culture, and a fast paced, live big, atmosphere that brings in people from all across the country. Every month the city brings in around 3.5 million visitors every month just looking to spend money and have a good time.
Public funds being put toward anything in the entertainment industry is a tough sell. Many residents in Nevada witnessed the state legislature approve $750 million for the potential football stadium to be built in Las Vegas. It has drawn a lot of criticism, but with the right message constructed on how much revenue the team and stadium could generate would change a lot of minds. In the stadiums first year alone it is expected to generate $290 million. The Raiders franchise right now is estimated at $1.43 billion placing them in the leagues bottom five. Moving to Las Vegas alone would raise their franchise value by 47 percent bringing them up to $2.1 billion. The move alone looks to benefit the team as well as the community that surrounds it.
The theme that needs to be constructed to convince the public as well as the league of team owners should consist of community development. Whether you’re an NFL fan or not, the stadium will bring a lot to Vegas. Crafting a message of secondary spending associated with the stadium, helps to highlight how money will be brought into the community, creating jobs and helping the local economy. Establishing grassroots support relies on a message of community involvement, along with team development. This message will resonate with anyone living in the Rocky Mountain region, seeing as there aren’t many professional sports teams in the area.
Moving a franchise from one city to another will be a huge decision for the NFL team owners to make. It leaves one city asking where their team went, but also brings football into a new untapped market. Framing the transition in the right way will ultimately benefit Sin City more than it will hurt the Bay Area, and bring new fans out of the woodworks to a declining NFL viewership.
–Ben Latham, Field Director