PHOTO: Las Vegas is ready to welcome an NFL franchise. ((Photo via Flickr/daryl_mitchell)
Tourism not only helped lure a National Football League team to Las Vegas—the proverbial Golden Ticket among sports franchises—it also hopes to benefit from the Oakland Raiders’ decision to relocate to Sin City.
NFL owners on Monday voted near-unanimously (a 31-1 decision) to allow the Raiders to move the franchise beginning in 2020.
In large part, the vote was so decisive for two reasons, and are both related to the tourist trade.
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One, a record $1.9 billion stadium financing plan is in place that includes $750 million in taxpayer money financed by an increased tax on Las Vegas hotel rooms. That part of the plan was heavily criticized by many, including Stanford University economist Roger Noll, who called it “flimsy.”
But the hotel tax increase was approved by the Nevada legislature and, more importantly, heavily backed by hotel/casino owners in Las Vegas. There is now a vested interest by the hotels to have the team succeed.
Expect these same owners to purchase suites and large blocks of tickets to give out as comps that help lure tourists to visit and watch the new Las Vegas Raiders.
And that ties into the second big reason: Future tourism. The State of Nevada is forecasting 450,000 new visitors to Las Vegas every year once the Raiders officially relocate, and it is expecting about a third of the new stadium’s 65,000 seats will be purchased by tourists. Some have called that ambitious, noting that less than 10 percent of available tickets to an NFL game are bought by tourists/fans of the opposing team.
But Pittsburgh isn’t Las Vegas.
Houston isn’t Las Vegas.
Seattle isn’t Las Vegas.
READ MORE: Tourists Will Make Las Vegas America’s Next Great Sports Town
Sin City drew 42.9 million tourists in 2016, a record. Is it so hard to believe that Las Vegas—arguably the most dynamic city in the world when it comes to a total package of entertainment, gambling, foodie paradise and more—won’t increase its tourism numbers by ONE percent per year to hit that 450,000 annual increase?
Further, those projections of nearly half-a-million new visitors aren’t just for the Raiders themselves. The projections are based on at least 36 total events at the new stadium, including eight regular-season NFL games, two preseason NFL games, and a mix of University of Nevada-Las Vegas college football games, concerts, other events and, dare we say it, a Super Bowl someday?
“We host more sporting events in one month than most destinations host in a year,” Michael Goldsmith, vice-president of international marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“The events not only attract thousands of visitors who spend literally millions of dollars, but they also provide us with valuable global exposure and reinforce the image that Las Vegas is a destination like none other.”
Indeed, it would not be surprising to see even airlines and car rental companies become involved with fly-and-drive packages to see the Raiders.
Interestingly, the Dallas Cowboys are known as America’s Team, but the Las Vegas Raiders will be a franchise built by American tourists.