I finally got around to watching HBO’s hit series “Ballers” in the last few weeks. In the show, Dwayne Johnson’s character spends all of season three courting different multi-millionaires in his quest to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.
It isn’t just a plotline in an R-rated comedy, the Raiders are coming to Las Vegas. Which got me to thinking: How is that going, by the way?
Well, in a sentence, it’s tricky but on schedule, for now.
It should come as no surprise to anyone, but there are a lot of legal hoops to jump through when moving a franchise valued at two billion dollars. It’s been a 25-month journey, but the franchise is currently at fourth-and-goal with their plan to officially begin play in Vegas by 2020. Both team and state officials will meet Thursday at a special meeting of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority as they try to finalize an agreement on the details of building the planned 65,000-seat arena. The Stadium Authority has discussed it for 17 meetings and time is running out.
To state the obvious, 65,000 sounds like a lot of seats to fill. But in reality, the stadium’s capacity will rank in the bottom five of the league’s 31 stadiums. This means the Raiders should have no problem selling it out for at least the first few years.
Attendance was always the counterpoint when talking about professional sports in Las Vegas. Many argued there were too many other things to do that there wouldn’t be a dedicated contingent of fans every Sunday.
Enter the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s no secret that hockey is the least popular of the four major sports in this country. That’s why many deemed it risky that Las Vegas’s first foray into professional sports came to fruition in an NHL franchise. Well, that very franchise is currently one point behind the lead for the coveted President’s Trophy, sitting at 86 points behind Tampa Bay’s 87 points at the time of writing.
People are certainly coming to watch. Around Christmas time, Vegas was third in the NHL filling out 102.6 percent of their announced capacity of 17,500. They still sit all the way up at third, currently filling out 103.5 percent of their arena.
If this is any indication, the people of Las Vegas are ready for sports. Considering the Raiders already have a fan base, unlike the Golden Knights who are playing in their first ever season, attendance shouldn’t be a problem.
If you win games in any league, the fans will come. With Derek Carr leading this Raiders squad, the wins should come and so will the people.
Las Vegas is ready.