This Las Vegas Raiders thing has gotten very political. It’s all “taxpayers don’t want to pay for this” and “an NFL owner shouldn’t have a haircut like that.” In my opinion, as a 22-year Las Vegas native and sports fan, the Raiders moving to Las Vegas is a successful deal, decades in the making, that should be celebrated.
Finally, Bishop Gorman won’t be the most talented and most high profile football team in Southern Nevada. Finally, UNLV football will move out of that silver, horseshoe-shaped turd of a stadium. Finally, locals will have something to be proud of other than strippers, gambling, the Hoover Dam and the Blue Man Group. And FINALLY, after hoping and praying for my entire life, FINALLY Las Vegas will have a real professional sports team (I’m still not convinced the Golden Knights are affiliated with the NHL, so the Raiders feel like the first).
Defenders of this deal say it’s a good move because the team will bring more visitors to Las Vegas and construction on the $1.9 billion stadium will create jobs for locals. This is all true.
A state-of-the-art stadium will bring Super Bowls, Final Fours and international soccer. Las Vegas is already an attractive destination for sporting events like the Mountain West, PAC-12 and West Coast Conference tournaments, NASCAR, boxing and UFC. The Las Vegas Bowl continues to draw big crowds every year (especially if BYU or Utah is playing). The Las Vegas economy runs on visitors, and now the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” America’s sexiest city will be home to America’s sexiest team playing America’s sexiest sport. The Raiders were meant for Las Vegas.
But, the best part about this deal isn’t the tourism or the jobs or the possibility of strippers and bottle service in the suites at Raiders Stadium. The best part is that Las Vegans love sports, and after years of settling for mediocre semi-professional teams, we have not one, but two teams playing at the highest level. Don’t get me wrong, I had season tickets to the Thunder, the Wranglers and the Stars/51’s, but watching Jackie Moon types meander through the ECHL season and lose to the Alaska Aces in the Pacific Division championship series at the Orleans Arena can get old after a while.
The Raiders aren’t for tourists. They’re for locals. They’re going to be like the Lakers of the NFL with shades of “Gucci Row” at Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebel games. Celebrities will sit courtside and die-hard fans will fill the cheap seats. I’m not saying locals will instantly become die-hard Raider fans (hopefully all the Cowboys fans in Vegas will change their minds), but Las Vegans love their sports and will buy in to whoever is playing pro football in their town. If you rushed the court every time UNLV beat BYU in the Mountain West tournament during the Lon Kruger era, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Raider haters say this deal is an irresponsible use of taxpayer money. They say money should be going to public education rather than fancy stadiums and sports teams, considering Nevada ranks last in public education nationally. According to Norman Chad of The Washington Post, “if we had as many educationologists and knowledgeniks in this nation as we do bracketologists and draftniks, the United States would be far and away the most cultivated, enlightened and literate republic on the face of this flat Earth.”
They make valid points, but I’m not going to let public education get in the way of my love sports.