The NHL said it is “neutral” on the potential move of the Oakland Raiders to the Las Vegas market.
On Saturday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported the Raiders will file relocation papers “in the coming days” to begin the process of moving to Las Vegas. Last June the NHL announced it would expand to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season.
When asked if the NHL views the potential move as positive, negative or neutral, deputy commissioner Bill Daly took the middle road.
“I would say overall, it’s neutral. We were certainly aware of the talk and the possibility of the NFL locating a franchise in Vegas at the time we made the decision to expand into Las Vegas,” Daly said via email to Puck Daddy. “So, obviously, we felt an NFL team – if it transpired (and certainly time will tell on that) – wouldn’t materially affect the business of the hockey team. That continues to be our feeling. I think while fan bases undoubtedly overlap, the sports ‘buy’ for sponsors is materially different as between football and hockey.”
In his story, Rapoport noted several issues that need to be rectified before the NFL moves to Vegas.
There are still questions, including whether or not the Raiders do the deal for the $1.9 billion Las Vegas Stadium project with the help of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson or not. That was the original plan — the Adelson family would contribute $650 million, the Raiders would contribute $500 million, and there would be $750 million in Clark County hotel room tax revenue. They have not yet come to terms.
Raiders owner Mark Davis has said that if the team moves, it will still have to play in Oakland the next two years while a new stadium is built. The Raiders will need 24 votes from the NFL’s owners to formally make the move, which wouldn’t come until the spring.
Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has said in the past he would welcome the NFL to the market if a team decides to enter Las Vegas.
“I think the NFL would be great here. I’ll be a season ticket holder,” Foley said last June. “They’re a different fan base than we have and I don’t believe they’ll have any impact on us. On sponsorships we have a head start. We’re here. We’re going.”
The NHL faced a similar predicament several years ago when the expansion Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans franchise (then they were still called the Oilers after a move from Houston) both started play in the area in 1998.
This slowed the momentum of the Predators initially as the organization developed its fan base.
“If we had come solely like we were supposed to come to Nashville and be the only thing it would have been like San Jose. The Sharks are the only thing there. I think it would have galvanized really quickly in Nashville,” former Predators coach Barry Trotz said at the 2016 NHL Awards. “We went from being, ‘Hey, we got a professional team’ to ‘Now we’ve got two.’ We went from being the talk of the town to now the Titans were the talk of the town, and that did hurt.”
Around the time the NHL announced it would expand to Vegas, Vanderbilt University economics professor John Vrooman showed skepticism on whether the league could thrive in the market if it included an NFL team. At the time, the Raiders had displayed interest in Las Vegas, but had yet to take formal steps towards playing in Sin City.
“The NFL would consume almost all of the corporate fan base and the NHL team would be relegated to being a stepchild,” Vrooman said. “This happened in Nashville with the Preds and then the Titans, but again Nashville has economic depth and Vegas is a sham market overly dependent on the gaming and tourism industry.”
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