HNGN (photo credit)
The Fan Base
Personally, I see this as the biggest issue when it comes to the Raiders moving to Vegas. They are going to lose an immense amount of fans that come to the games. There will obviously not be the die-hard fans from Oakland that showed up to every game whether the team is winning, losing, or it is raining or sunny. Those fans of Oakland may not be able to make the trip, have the money because the stadium prices will go up, be able to pay for the flight to Vegas every Sunday, or they will just not want to support the team if they go to Vegas. The Raiders have prided themselves on being the only nation, and being Raider Nation, but as soon as they move to Vegas there will be no such thing.
In addition, there will not be a huge fan base coming from the Vegas area. It is a very poor population that will not have the money to spend on Raider games. I am not saying the Raiders will not benefit financially. They will sell out every game, but the issue is who is buying the tickets. The people buying the tickets are not going to help the home field advantage, which is what Oakland and the Raiders have prided themselves on for decades. The people going to the games will be from the visiting team who are wealthy and want to spend a weekend at Vegas to see their team play or it will be wealthy business people from the casinos who will invest money in suites. The fans will either be cheering for the opposing team or will not be a football fan and will not be providing any home field advantage while they sit in their luxury box taking photos and doing work on their iPads. When a team like the Dallas Cowboys come to town it will be close to 50% cowboy fans and it will be as if the Raiders are playing on the road. Everyone saw what happened to the Niners’ great home field advantage when they moved to Levi’s Stadium. It will be similar, but worse, because instead of having fans that are just quiet, there will be fans making noise for the opposing team. This will make it more of a road game rather than just negating the incredible home field advantage that exists in Oakland.
It will be an absolute disaster to the Raiders to the lose the best fan base in the NFL. It will cost the team football games, which should be the owner’s first priority. Mark Davis should carry the legacy of his father Al and do anything to win. A move to Vegas will be a disadvantage to the team and should be taken into consideration when a team is moving.
As much as I would not want a move to Los Angeles. There would not be issues when it comes to winning football games. A huge Raider fan base exists there and it would still be the same incredible home field advantage and still provide the Raiders the financial benefits of building a new stadium and provide a massive market as well to NFL owners.
It is true. Moving to Vegas will get the Raiders a nicer stadium than one could ever imagine in Oakland. However, the market size in Vegas would become the 4th smallest market in the NFL. The Raiders are currently in the 2nd biggest market for any NFL team. This is a huge issue when it comes to revenue which is paramount to Goodell and the NFL owners. This is a league that makes its majority of money on TV deals, so why would the league want to move out of the 2nd largest market to become one of the smallest in the NFL.
Is it a Distraction for the Players and Fans?
This is definitely one of the smaller issues when it comes to the team moving, but the Raiders had their best season in over 13 years. They made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2003. However, Raider Nation can not be as excited about the success because of the cloud of Vegas. As soon as the team becomes good and is possibly one season away from being a Super Bowl Contender, the team is looking to leave Oakland. All the suffering Oakland fans endured over the past decade will not matter. Also, who is to say all this talk does not affect the players on the field. The players say it does not distract them, but how could it not. They have families that they have to think about moving. They will have to find a new home, find schools for their kids and many other stresses that come with possibly moving. They have to think about that in addition to having one of the hardest jobs in the world, finding a way to win in the NFL for the first time in 13 years.
Taking Millions Away from Vegas
The locals of Las Vegas can not be happy that 750 million dollars, which could be used to help this county, will be used on a stadium. It is true that there is no money coming out of the local’s pockets, but it is money that could be going to schools, infrastructure, and into new jobs that could help the 7.5 % that are unemployed. Out of the 600,000 people in Vegas, close 18% are in poverty or 100,000 people, which needs to be fixed. The stadium would increase the amount of people going to hotels and more people would be paying these hotel taxes because people would come for the events at the stadium. Therefore, the amount would not be 750 million, but it would have to be at least half, so to say that 375 million dollars could not immensely help the Vegas population, is absolutely absurd. The 375 million dollars can go to helping the unemployed and can go to education to help the huge portion of the population get out of poverty. Instead, it will go to a football team that should not even be in this location and take money away from the locals. A football team should go to a city to help the locals and bring joy to them and provide a way that the city can rally around a common goal. However, it will not be locals at the game, but rich business people who do not care about football and the Raiders and this stadium will then take away precious money that could go to the locals of Vegas.
Hopefully, Mark Davis and Oakland can find a solution. It does not look likely at this point, but it would be better for the Raiders, Raider Nation, NFL, and the people of Vegas if the Raiders find a solution in Oakland. If there is no stadium option in Oakland (which I find it hard to believe because there is so much money in Silicon Valley and in the Bay area, someone has to want to fund the Raiders) then the Raiders have no choice and have to move to where they can get a stadium, which is Vegas. I hope it does not come to that, but every day that goes by it looks likely unless a miracle happens in Oakland. Just hopefully Mark Davis has not completely shut off Oakland and will still listen if a viable option surfaces.
Now with the Chargers in Los Angeles, it makes the possible Raiders move to Vegas even messier. Las Vegas is only 4 hours away from Los Angeles, so a Raiders move to Vegas would make it so there are pretty much 3 teams in one market which could create a disaster that the NFL does not want to see. Just remember, people question the ability of the LA market to house 2 teams. People also question the ability of the Vegas market to have 1 team. So 3 teams in those close markets is a major risk.
*** first published October 18th, 2016 and edited today, January 14th, 2017. ***
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.