Feb. 12, 2017
Sports Reporting Blog 2: Sin City and Professional Sports[Vegas' hockey expansion team to test whether ice stays firm, or melts in the desert]
With recent reports of the Oakland Raiders losing a casino mogul that was a big part of helping bring the team to Las Vegas, the NHL's newest expansion team, Las Vegas Golden Knights, is less than a year away from bringing professional sports to Sin City.
The Raiders and the NFL can learn a lot from the Golden Knights and the NHL. First off, control the market. The NHL has been eyeing a team in Vegas since the early 90s. For over 20 years they held the potential of a franchise coming to Vegas in front of the people. Now the fans have been patient, and they are being rewarded. They have already sold past their goal of selling 13,000 season tickets.
The NFL and the Raiders, on the other had, have tried to rush a team into Vegas. Not because they truly want to be there, in my opinion, but because that is where they can get the best new stadium. Face it, that is why the Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Chargers from San Diego to Los Angeles. The Rams and Chargers had been trying to get new stadiums in St. Louis and San Diego for years, as the Raiders have been trying to do in Oakland. With taxpayers in the city not biting, being happy with having the team in an older stadium, the owners threatened to move the team to another city where they will get a new stadium and be able to increase revenue. With the Rams and Chargers fans not responding to the threat of their team leaving the owners took their business elsewhere.
Instead of making it a fight about money and new stadiums, the NHL expanded to the market. It is easier for them to do that as the NFL already has the most teams of the 4 major American sports leagues. But to me it seems odd that I first heard about an NFL team moving to Vegas after the Rams had moved to Los Angeles, which was the threat city ever since the Raiders and Rams left the city with no team.
I am sure the NFL will be well received in Vegas as the Golden Knights will be. But the NFL may find it easier to build lasting relationships with fans and taxpayers if they don't try to leverage teams leaving them for taxpayer money. You are a billion dollar industry. Invest.