Los Angeles has finally got its own NFL team and who knows, maybe in another year they will have a second one. But what about Las Vegas? They would literally kill to have an NFL team or any pro franchise for that matter. The real question is: will any league be bold enough to move a team to Sin City? It’s a large market, there is money and celebrity there. I’m sure they could find investors for a stadium very easily but there seems to be an unspoken rule that everyone has agreed on to leave Nevada out.
Not every state gets a big four (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) team. Just ask Iowa, Nebraska, Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky and 18 other states how it feels to be left out. That number is a little misleading because D.C. has pro teams but not technically Virginia. Also it’s the New England Patriots, so that covers all those little east coast states and it’s the Carolina Panthers so South Carolina has someone to root for but has to drive out of state to see a ‘home’ game. Still a large chunk of the country is forced to pick a neighboring state’s team as their own. After hearing that, it doesn’t seem strange that Las Vegas is teamless.
I don’t buy that it is just a shortage of teams and not everyone gets one. The main reason Las Vegas doesn’t have a pro squad is because of concern with ethics and morality. Not a year goes by without a pro athlete getting in trouble in Vegas. It’s a playground. Any league or team owner is nervous about planting a franchise in the center of party hurricane. All of the big sports want to maintain a family friendly image and Vegas doesn’t fit that model. I know the city tries to appeal to everyone but the common perception is still hookers, gambling and drugs. That doesn’t fly with modern sports marketing.
I almost forgot the billion dollar elephant in the room: gambling. This is the other major hold up. How can the casinos and the league both expect there to be no insider information changing the betting lines if Vegas had a team? The temptation is too great. It’s just begging for some huge scandal that no one wants. Just imagine, a team doctor knows a player is hurt, maybe tips someone off or gets a friend to place a bet based on that knowledge. Yes, that can happen in any state but the access in Nevada makes it too easy.
Look at Pete Rose, he is banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame for betting on the games. Some folks want to get Rose into the hall while most don’t think he has done enough to change his image. The guy still lives in Las Vegas. He is a gambler and that’s why the MLB won’t take him. If Pete ever wants into Cooperstown then he needs to move from Vegas and check into rehab for gambling. Once again, it’s about perception. People think if you live in Nevada then you spend all your time on the strip, in casinos and clubs. Whether it’s true or not.
At the end of the day, I can see how the draw could lead a team to move to Las Vegas but seeing all the potential potholes makes me think no owner will risk the money. If you were GM would you want your star player hanging around Vegas every weekend? Not me. There is simply too much temptation and too much that could go wrong. With all that said, I hear rumors of the Raiders making a Vegas bid. The city has also been courting NBA teams so only time will tell. But I’m saying it now, pro sports in Sin City is a bad idea.
Cash me out.