Vegas continues its growth of new sports leagues
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Las Vegas has acquired the Oakland Raiders, which signals the city’s entrance into the NFL. The effort was led by the Raiders’ owner Mark Davis after multiple failed attempts at having the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum replaced, and now a new stadium is being built in Vegas.
The move from Oakland and the construction of a new stadium in Las Vegas have both been controversial in their respective cities, with online petitions from California and Nevada residents calling for a better allocation of funds. The stadium is projected to cost around $750 million for taxpayers according to The Guardian, with another $500 million from the Raiders themselves.
Bill Foley, owner of new NHL team The Las Vegas Golden Knights has also criticized the cost of the arena. In an interview with radio show Vegas Hockey Hotline, he said that there “were a lot better ways to spend $750 million,” such as “police, firefighters, and teachers.” The Golden Knights’ new arena, the T-Mobile Arena, cost around $375 million and was constructed without money from taxpayers.
The move was motivated by a need to transfer out of the aging Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which has been consistently ranked one of the worst major NFL stadiums in the country. Davis had previously attempted to secure public and private funding for either a remodeling or total reconstruction of the arena, but had been unsuccessful at doing so for years. This was also a contributing factor in the Raiders’ first move out of Oakland in 1982 to Los Angeles, though they moved back 12 years later. The new location was chosen after years of failed negotiations with San Diego, Los Angeles, and Oakland itself.
The public has reacted with raised eyebrows at both of these new entrances into major sports leagues for Las Vegas due to two major concerns. First, Las Vegas has rarely shown much of a demand for either the NFL or NHL, as the weather tends to favour neither and the public interest has been minimal. Second, both leagues have extremely strict rules against gambling on games and have a long history of upholding those rules. The establishment of new teams with Vegas’ famously lax gambling laws and culture opens the door, some fear, for the kind of illicit gambling present in boxing decades ago.
The Raiders’ lease means they will remain in Oakland until 2018, by which time the new Las Vegas arena should be completed.